Skip to main content

Full text of "France The Classical Age The Life And Death Of An Ideal"

See other formats


i : ' *<& &\ 

944 G92frl 65-49069 $2.25 

Albeit ;f^U^l^^ . , f .; 

in the "ctassicai"'age"r 
& Rcw [1928] 

3 1148 00720 7863 




2 5 1981 


A reference-list of Harper Torchbooks, classified 
by subjects, is printed at the end of this volume. 


The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Albert Guerard 

Harper Torchbooks f The Academy Library 

Harper & Row, Publishers 

New York and Evanston 

A Madame et Monsieur Paul Bouju 
qui ont su f aire aimer a tant 
cPAmericains la douceur de France 


Copyright 1928, by Charles Scribner's Sons 

1956, by Albert Guerard 

Printed in the United States of America 

This book was originally published by Charles Scribners Sons in 
1928 under the title THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN IDEAL, and was re- 
issued under that title by George Braziller, Inc. in 1956. It is here 
reprinted by arrangement. 

First HARPER TORCHBOOK edition published 1965 by 
Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated 

49 East 33rd Street 
New York, New York 10016 
























CALSpmiT . (10.) PUBllC 






III. "PHILOSOPHY" .......... 59 


ROMANTICISM ......... * 78 


VI. THE REVOLUTION .......... 314 


BIBLIOGRAPHY .......... 349 


INDEX ...... . ...... 367 




I. Self-Determination of Historical Periods. Living Inter- 
est of the Classical Age. 

II. Other Names for the Period: Modern Times? The An- 
cient Regime? The Revolution is a part of the Classical Age. 

III. The Spiritual Unity of the Classical Age: Rationalism, 
Autocracy, Reverence for Antiquity. 

IV. Sub-periods: (a) The Renaissance, (b) The Religious 
Wars, (c) The Restoration of Order (Henry IV,, Richelieu), 
(d) The Splendour of Louis XIV. (e) Decadence and Transi- 
tion, (f ) The Regency and the Pompadour Era. (g) The Re- 
turn to Nature and the Eve of the Revolution, (h) The Revolu- 
tion and the Empire. 

V. Complexity and Inner Contradictions of the Classical Age: 
(a) Survivals of Medievalism; (b) gradual shift of emphasis 
from Tradition to Reason. 

The Story of an Ideal and of an Effort. 

WHAT is the Classical Age? Periods do not follow 
each other in orderly succession, like Kings and 
Presidents. Historians may argue indefinitely 
about the birth, accession to power, dethronement and de- 
mise of that phantom sovereign, "the Spirit of the Age." 
The germs of our most modern ideas can be found in the 
middle ages, and the quaintest medieval notions survive 
in our midst. We are fairly safe, however, in applying 
to periods, even more than to nations, the Wilsonian doc- 
trine of self-determination. Consciousness is the one irre- 
futable test of existence. For three centuries, the French 
lived consciously under the classical dispensation. The 
state of mind that it implied had a definite beginning and 
a definite end. There was a moment when France said 
with Rabelais : "At last we are out of Gothic night !" ; and 
a moment when she said with Victor Hugo : "The Lord be 


4 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

praised! We are delivered from the Greeks and the Ro- 
mans !" Granted that both attitudes revealed some injus- 
tice, much ignorance and more illusion: still, even a de- 
lusion is a force, and therefore a fact, in the realm of 
ideas. The Classical Spirit was a conscious factor in 
French culture. It is the evolution of that factor that we 
shall attempt to trace in this book. 

In English-speaking countries, the French Classical 
Age is no longer considered as of commanding impor- 
tance. We know that French doctrines and French mod- 
els did affect, profoundly, our art, our literature, and our 
philosophy. But we also know that against such a domi- 
nation there was a sharp and successful revolt. The dic- 
tatorship of Boileau is as dead as the autocracy of the 
Stuarts, or the claims of King George III to his American 
colonies. Not only are we emancipated: but the tables 
were actually turned; France eagerly submitted to the 
influence of Shakespeare, "Ossian," Walter Scott, and 
Byron. To the "modernist," French Classicism was noth- 
ing but a prolonged mistake ; the true classical mind, not 
satisfied with an ideal at second hand, prefers to go back 
to the fountain and origin of the faith, Greece and Rome. 
If some of us are interested in the Classical Age at all, it 
is for Romantic reasons: not because Classicism has the 
words of eternal life, but because it possesses the majesty 
of death and the poetry of ruins. When the crumbling 
and leprous statues in the gardens of Versailles were 
cleaned up and restored as Louis XIV would have wanted 
them, that act of piety was denounced by some as Van- 
dalism. Delicate souls enjoy the subtle odour of decay, 
as of autumnal leaves, left behind by those centuries of 
abundant and almost coarse vitality. Because their pas- 
tels are faded, we forget that their faces were rubicund. 

Such will not be our attitude. We shall not study the 
Classical Age because it is dead, but because it is alive. 
It is said that History is past Politics : a definition which 
we find perfectly acceptable, inasmuch as Politics deals 
or meddles with every possible aspect of life. It is no 
less obvious that Politics is living History. But we shall 

Introduction 5 

go farther and say that History is living Politics. In- 
terest in death is decadent, not scientific. Let the dead 
bury their dead! It is only when the facts of the past 
have some bearing upon our own life, something in com- 
mon with our own experience, that they are intelligible at 
all. History can not carry us into the irrevocable past: 
what it does is to reveal how much of the past survives in 
the present. 

In France, at any rate, the Classical Spirit is a live 
issue : and France herself is a live issue for us. We can 
not quite understand Raymond Poincare without Charles 
Maurras, Jacques Bainville and Louis Bertrand. They 
may differ on many points, but they are steeped in the 
same tradition. The ghosts of Richelieu and Hugues de 
Lionne hovered over the Paris Peace Conference. The 
spirit of Versailles affected the treaty of 1919. France 
to-day is a fascinating battlefield between the seventeenth 
century and the twenty-first. Louis XIV is stormed, cap- 
tured and re-captured like a line of trenches on the 
Cheinin-des-Dames. Hardly had Louis Bertrand stamped 
the majestic medal of the Grand Monarch but Felix 
Gaiffe must show us its disreputable obverse. 1 Such parti- 
sanship, no doubt, is alien to the serenity of academic 
history : but academic history is a frigid idol. 

In that battle between past and future, we need hardly 
state where we stand. A writer may often conceal his 
convictions, but seldom his sympathies. Impartiality is 
indispensable in establishing material facts. When it 
comes to the selection of facts, which must needs be based 
upon the appreciation of their significance, perfect in- 
anity alone could attain to impartiality. The most con- 
scientious judge on the bench can not lay aside his "prej- 
udices," for they are embodied in the Code. All that can 
be expected of him is that he shall disregard personal in- 
terest, animosity and caprice. To such a modest degree 
of pragmatic impartiality, the present writer has some 
reasonable claims. He has lived away from France for 

1 Louis Bertrand, Louis XIV, Paris, Artheme Fayard, 1923. Felix 
Gaiffe, L'Enven du Grand SUcle, Paris, Albin Michel, 1924. 

6 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

nearly a quarter of a century. For all these years, he has 
been teaching the history of French culture a sobering 
process, under which juvenile radicalism could hardly 
survive; his many personal friends in France, whilst they 
belong to all creeds and parties, are mostly found on the 
conservative side. So he is able to enjoy Messrs. Maur- 
ras s Bainville, Dimier, Bertrand, without taking them too 
seriously; and to chuckle over Penguin Island, without 
being led into anarchism* 


In many works on French History for instance in 
Michelet's, still the greatest of them all the times we 
call "Classical" are named "Modern," whilst the "Con- 
temporary" period is made to begin with the Revolution. 
For men of Michelet's generation, the ashes of the Revo- 
lution were still warm: for us the great upheaval belongs 
to the past as completely as Louis XIV himself. The 
word "modern" in connection with the Bourbon monarchy 
seems to us a misnomer. It certainly fails to express the 
aspirations and the principles of the time. The eigh- 
teenth century, in some respects, may have been con- 
sciously modern: the sixteenth and the seventeenth were 
not. Progress, in those days, meant first of all a return 
to antiquity ; in art, literature, and philosophy, a return to 
the standards of Greece and Rome ; in religion, a return 
to the faith and practices of the Apostolic Age. Calvin, 
Boileau, Bossuet, would spurn the name Modernist as in- 
dignantly as our staunchest Fundamentalists to-day. 

The term Ancient Regime is also in common use. Un- 
fortunately, it is so elastic as to be almost meaningless. 
In Taine's Origins of Contemporary France, the Ancient 
Regime is made to include, legitimately enough, all that 
preceded the Revolution: it extends as far back as the 
inception of feudal and ecclesiastical privileges. There is 
much to be commended in such a division. The Dark 
Ages can hardly be called a "regime" at all ; and the An- 
cient Regime, from the end of the tenth century to the 
end of the eighteenth, thus coincides with the rule of the 

Introduction 7 

Capetian dynasty. On the other hand, M. Funck-Bren- 
tano, in his scholarly, paradoxical and popular study 
IfAncien Regime? restricts the term to the state of 
France on the eve of the Revolution; more definitely, to 
the last few years of the reign of Louis XV, for the great 
events of 1789 were already casting their shadow over the 
fifteen years that preceded them. The time is fast coming 
when the Second Empire will rightly be called "Pancien 
regime. 55 A new order soon becomes ancient : the classical 
ideal remains classical. 

If we adopt the name "Classical Age,* 5 our story will 
properly begin with the Revival of Learning, the redis- 
covery of Antiquity, which, originating in Italy, reached 
France early in the sixteenth century. Its first manifes- 
tation is Humanism: and to the present day, "classical 
studies 55 and "the humanities 35 are stiU held to be synony- 
mous ; the notion of "modern humanities 35 seems to many 
a contradiction in terms. Thus our starting point is 
clearly defined. But when would the Classical Age termi- 
nate? If we use as our basis the cultural notion of Clas- 
sicism, the period would extend until the time when the 
Classical School was definitely superseded. Although the 
germs of Romanticism are clearly to be found in Rous- 
seau in 1750, and its manifestations were unmistakable in 
Chateaubriand at the very dawn of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, it was not until two decades later, with Lamartine, 
Vigny, Hugo, that the school assumed conscious existence. 
In art as well as in literature, the Revolution is wholly 
and austerely classical, and so is the Empire. There is 
no coincidence between the purely political Revolution 
and the cultural Revolution. As for the industrial Revo- 
lution, in germ under Louis XVI, but frustrated, it had 
to wait, in France, until the eighteen-f orties, and bore its 
fruit under Napoleon III. 

This leads us to consider the Revolution as the last 
phase of the Classical epoch, rather than as the opening 
of a new era. This contention may seem a paradox, if 

iFrantz Funck-Brentano: L'Ancien Regime, Paris, Arthfeme Fayard, 

8 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

not an absurdity. But it is by this time a paradox so 
hoary, and supported by such sober political philosophers 
that it has become venerable. De Tocqueville established 
the continuity of political principles and methods from 
the Ancient Regime to the Revolution ; Albert Sorel made 
the same demonstration in the domain of foreign affairs ; 
Louis Madelin adopted the same view in his Political His- 
tory of France from 1515 to 1804. For Taine, the dis- 
ease which killed the Ancient Regime and determined the 
Revolution was none other but "the Classical Spirit, 59 the 
Philosophy of the Enlightenment. The Revolution came 
to fulfil, not to destroy; the Convention rushed to com- 
pletion the work of Richelieu ; and Napoleon actually was 
what Louis XIV had dreamt to be. 


These three centuries, from Marignano to Waterloo, 
richly varied as they were, offered a striking unity of 
spirit. The very center of that unity is to be found in 
RATIONALISM: the Classical Age was throughout 
what it called itself towards its close, the Age of Reason. 
Not that the Middle Ages had not used reason, or at least 
reasoning, to such an excess that scholasticism has re- 
mained a by-word. But reason then was not supreme. 
Even in philosophy, she was the handmaid of revelation ; 
in political and social life, she was hampered at every turn 
by reverence for "custom." Not that later ages, includ- 
ing our own, have totally abandoned reason as their 
guide: but, with Romanticism, reason was subordinated 
to imagination and passion ; with Realism, to observation 
and experimentation. Even among French Radicals to- 
day, nothing appears inevitably true on the mere plea 
that it is logical. 

The supremacy of Reason is characteristic of the whole 
period. It was Reason that Rabelais and Montaigne 
wanted to train in their educational schemes ; even Mon- 
taigne's scepticism is a manifestation of rationalism: 
Reason alone is capable of gauging its own infirmity* It 

Introduction 9 

was Reason that Calvin used so masterfully in his con- 
troversies. Descartes, Moliere, Boileau, urge us to hon- 
our, to obey, and even to love Reason : 

Aimez done la raison: que ton jours vos ecrits 

Empruntent d'elle seule et leur lustre et leur prix. 

Reason for them was synonymous with Nature and with 
Truth. The ardent mystic Pascal teaches: "All the dig- 
nity of man rests upon his thought. Let us therefore 
learn how to think correctly: such is the foundation of 
moral life." The eighteenth century was a feast, and at 
times a carnival, of reason; towards its close, we find 
Reason formally enthroned on a revolutionary altar. The 
supreme soldier, Napoleon, bowed to the same goddess: 
above all his victories, he prized his Civil Code: Law 
brought at last into harmony with Reason. 

The second character common to these three centuries 
is the growth of ABSOLUTISM, going hand in hand 
with the growth of national consciousness. The France 
of Louis XI was still a quivering mass of feudal princi- 
palities caught in the royal net : some of them still restive, 
and eager to break their bonds. Throughout the Clas- 
sical Age, the net tightens and resistance ceases. The 
nobles lose their feudal powers, retaining naught but 
empty titles and obnoxious privileges ; the cities lose the 
substance of their charters ; the provinces have to give up 
much of their autonomy. This evolution is one of the 
triumphs of Rationalism : order is conceived as unity and 
clarity, for truth is single and logic is simple. The result 
is an enormous growth of the central power, both in ex- 
tent and in depth. 

In the process, France was created: not a vague geo- 
graphical expression and a sentimental aspiration merely, 
like the Douce France of the Chansons de Geste; not as 
"the French Section of the Catholic Internationa? 3 ; but 
as a nation, that is to say as a person, symbolized by her 
King. Louis XIV was absolute because he was "France" ; 
he might very naturally have said: "L'Etat, c'est moi" 

10 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Of this national absolutism, the monarchy was the sign 
and the instrument, rather than the essence. The Roy- 
alist historians are undeniably right in claiming that the 
Kings made the Nation, and that Royalism, therefore, is 
"integral Nationalism." But, as the nation grew to con- 
sciousness, the Kings became the servants of the entity 
their race had created. Under Henry IV and again at 
the time of the Fronde, the enlightened middle class and 
the masses rallied round the monarchy, chose it as their 
leader against the forces of disruption: a king thus sup- 
ported became indeed sovereign "by the grace of God and 
the will of the people." It will readily be seen that in this 
also the Revolution continued without a break the clas- 
sical tradition. The instrument was found wanting, the 
symbol was discarded, but the facts which had given the 
monarchy the substance of its power remained. National 
unity, national absolutism were still the ideals of France 
under the Republic as they had been under the Valois and 
the Bourbons. Louis XIV, Robespierre, Napoleon, under 
different titles, were priests of the same cause. 

The third principle which pervades the whole period, 
and which in a sense is the most distinctive, is CLAS- 
SICISM in art and literature. In its broadest meaning. 
Classicism is the spirit of discipline, as opposed to the 
spirit of individualism; specifically, however, it implies the 
deliberate imitation of Greco-Latin models. The Middle 
Ages had known some vestiges of antiquity, and held them 
in great veneration. Yet the medieval mind was never 
wholly guided by what survived of Pagan antiquity. The 
power of the Catholic Church, the force of immediate local 
custom, were greater than the dimly remembered prestige 
of ancient Rome. Saints counted for more than classical 
heroes ; and when Achilles and JEneas appeared in medi- 
eval poems, it was in the guise of medieval knights or 
barons. Our age, on the other hand, may claim a fuller, 
a more accurate knowledge of antiquity than the Clas- 
sical centuries could possess. But no Ipse dixit of Aris- 
totle, no precept of Horace, no architectural orders of 
Vitruvius are accepted by us as unquestionable authori- 

Introduction 11 

ties. Interest and even reverence may remain : the cult of 
the antique has perished utterly. Now that cult was con- 
stant during the period which we are studying. Educa- 
tion was Latin, not French ; and the statues of Louis XIV 
represent him clad as a Roman Emperor, or even nude 
like a Greek hero. The enthusiasm of the early sixteenth 
century for rediscovered antiquity is known to every 
schoolboy. Not so familiar, perhaps, is the fact that the 
last stage of the period saw a recrudescence of fervour for 
the antique. At the very moment when Romanticism was 
germinating, architecture, sculpture, painting, were be- 
coming more severely classical. A description of the 
Greek world was a best seller on the eve of the Revolution. 
The Pantheon in Paris was more Greco-Roman than the 
edifices of the Renaissance; Andre Chenier is a better 
Hellenist than Ronsard. The age ended appropriately 
with a Neo-Roman Emperor: Napoleon pastiched in his 
columns and triumphal arches the monuments of his 
predecessors, Trajan and Septimus Severus. 

The worship of Greece and Rome, however, did not 
exist apart from Rationalism. Certain Romanticists pro- 
fessed to admire "like a brute" every jot and tittle of the 
Shakespearian Scripture: but the Classicists, better bal- 
anced, revered antiquity only because antiquity was the 
embodiment of reason. Corneille bows to the rules of 
Aristotle, not, he says, because they are Aristotle's, but 
because they are reasonable. Just as the national and 
the monarchical spirits were long identical, so were ra- 
tionalism and respect for antiquity one and the same. 
The age at its best believed in a sort of cultural bimetal- 
lism : between the gold standard of Reason and the silver 
standard of Antiquity, there existed such a definite and 
invariable relation that the two could be used interchange- 


Whilst insisting upon the essential unity of the Classi- 
cal Age, we do not mean to ignore the picturesque, and 
at times profound, differences between generations. The 

12 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

background of Rabelais and that of Diderot are not of 
the same colouring; and Fontainebleau under Francis I 
was not Fontainebleau under Napoleon. ^ 

Apart from great revolutions in thought or in material 
conditions, we might expect national life to be continuous. 
The living tissue of the country is constantly renewed, 
and, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a "gen- 
eration." However, it is a fact that the flow of history 
is not even : it forms a series of pools and rapids. It takes 
some time for an ideal to be conceived and formulated, 
more time for it to be brought within the reach of men. 
Hardly does the ideal triumph but it "materializes : and 
disenchantment sets in. Its successor may not be ready: 
inertia often keeps a dying or even a dead sovereign on 
the throne long after its usefulness is past. The process 
speaking in purely empirical fashion, takes roughly half 
a century: in that time, the leading personnel is com- 
pletely renewed, and men forge to the front "who knew 
not Joseph." Of such secondary cycles, seven or eight 
may be discerned in the Classical Age. 

The reign of Francis I, prolonged without any radical 
change by that of Henry II, forms the first. It is the 
jocund day of the Renaissance, and starts with a young, 
handsome, chivalrous, artistic King, the victor of Mari- 
gnano, the friend of Lionardo, the builder of the new 
Louvre, the founder of the great humanistic school^ which 
still exists as the College de France. The contest with the 
House of Austria, under these two reigns, was exhausting 
and indecisive. France, on the whole, was the weaker, and 
stood constantly on the brink of disaster. But even that 
painful struggle had its glamour: it was the first diplo- 
matic and military conflict with the whole of Europe for 
its theatre. The country knew internal peace, and, 
thanks to the economic transformation, a substantial mea- 
sure of prosperity. The morning hopes faded; the bril- 
liant young knight, under the curse of dissolute living, 
fell into early decay; the bitterness of religious strife was 
increasing beyond control. Yet the splendour of the 
promises, and a few substantial achievements, were long 

Introduction 13 

remembered : a vision of learning and luxury, or elegance 
and valour. 

Then the religious wars, long looming, broke out with 
fury. It was a protracted, confused, deadly squabble, 
tragic without grandeur. Martyrs and heroes were not 
lacking: but what history wafts to us is chiefly the acri- 
monious pedantry of the theologians, shrill amid the bru- 
talities of hired or fanatical cutthroats. Atrocities repaid 
atrocities : des Adrets vied with Montluc. As in the dark- 
est day of the Hundred Years War, princely families, 
oblivious of king and country, were fighting for spoils; 
and Guises and Condes, worse than Armagnacs and Bur- 
gundians, were using their creed as a cloak. Between 
Huguenots and Catholic League, Catherine de 5 Medici, 
mother of three degenerate kings, steered a panic-stricken 
course, punctuating deceit with assassination. Lovers of 
romance still relish the haut gout of that age, its Baude- 
lairian blend of depravity and religious bigotry, of mor- 
bid refinement and frantic violence: Voltaire called that 
nightmare "a silken robe smeared with blood." Out of 
this chaos arose the scepticism of Montaigne, the mocking 
common sense of the Parisian Bourgeoisie in the Satire 
Menippee, and at last, smiling and wary, firm and supple, 
the opportunism of Henry IV. The Edict of Nantes was 
a truce made acceptable through weariness rather than 
through genuine tolerance. 

France had seen anarchy, and recoiled: the seventeenth 
century will extol, in reaction, the ideal of discipline, and 
submit with eagerness to its very excesses. The first half 
of the century marked in every field a conscious effort 
towards order. Manners, language, literature, religion, 
were tamed and purified, even though originality had to 
be mutilated: Malherbe won the day against Regnier or 
Theophile de Viau. In government, the same progress 
was achieved, but not without cruel jerks: too much de- 
pended upon a few all-powerful individuals. Henry IV 
had been a miracle of tactful firmness: his widow was 
weak and muddle-headed. Under her favourites, the 
store of gold, authority and goodwill left by the wise 

14 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

king was frittered away, and it took the ruthless hand of 
Richelieu to check the mad course towards renewed chaos. 
Richelieu, with the taciturn support of Louis XIII, did 
his work cruelly, wastefully, but thoroughly: so thor- 
oughly that the foreign origin, the cowardice, the corrup- 
tion of his successor Mazarin could endanger, but not 
ruin it. Through civil war and European strife, Maz- 
arin led young Louis XIV to safety, and left him in 
possession of unquestioned power at home, of unrivalled 
prestige abroad. 

By 1661, the Classical Age had reached its summit: a 
pacified, orderly, self-confident France, under a young 
King eager for glory. For twenty-five years, the em- 
blematic sun of the Grand Monarch shone with uninter- 
rupted splendour; it shone on victories and conquests, on 
gorgeous court functions, artistic achievements, literary 
masterpieces. The portraits of that generation breathe 
Invincible calm: the whole reign was, not an adventure, 
but a consummation. No revolt, no opposition, no dis- 
content: at least none audible enough to mar the majesty 
of that peace. 

Michelet divides the reign of Louis XIV in medical 
terms : before the fistula, after the fistula. More conven- 
tional historians place the turn of the tide in 1685, when 
the Edict of Nantes was revoked. It was the logical con- 
sequence of absolutism and its first irretrievable mistake. 
Arrogance and prodigality, long admired as tokens of 
greatness, bore their fruit at last. Before the end of the 
century, the great servants of the monarchy were suc- 
ceeded by mere courtiers, the great classical writers had 
died. In the chorus of praise, grown stale and thin, dis- 
cordant murmurs could be heard. As late as 1697, Louis 
XIV was still holding his own, nee pluribus impar: dur- 
ing the war of the Spanish succession, famine, bank- 
ruptcy and utter defeat faced the ageing King. Under 
the weight of infirmities, sorrows and repentance, Louis 
XIV, never irreligious, grew more narrowly devout. The 
genuine conversion of the master was hypocritically fol- 
lowed by the Court. The closing years of that intermi- 

Introduction 15 

liable reign are somber: they are not ignoble. Under the 
bludgeoning of fate, the monarchy preserved its indomi- 
table dignity. 

The rabble feasted on the route of Louis XIV's funeral 
train. All the restraints of the last thirty years were 
thrown to the wind. Of this reaction, the Regent took 
the lead and remains the symbol. "The Regency" means 
elegant and corrupt cynicism. It stamped the whole eigh- 
teenth century indelibly : there were nobles after the pat- 
tern of Philip of Orleans down to the very end of the 
Ancient Regime, including his descendant Philippe- 
Egalite. At any rate, that spirit prevailed almost with- 
out a check until the middle of the century. Young Vol- 
taire was filled with it, and the Patriarch of Ferney had 
not abjured it altogether. The Regency shows it in ex- 
aggerated form: its more subdued aspect is better ex- 
emplified by Madame de Pompadour, and her name is 
frequently attached to the whole period. It would be 
unfair to see in the Regency and in the Pompadour era 
nothing but delightful sophistication and light-hearted 
immorality. No doubt it was a time of ethical chaos : the 
old order, with Louis XIV, had ended in moral bank- 
ruptcy, no new creed had been evolved, and scoffing scep- 
ticism was the keynote. But wit and taste were not the 
only redeeming features of the time. The Regent himself 
was kindly and liberal ; even the Marquise de Pompadour 
was singularly refined and keen-minded. Science and 
philosophy were in vogue in the best salons. Voltaire and 
Montesquieu knew how to turn a madrigal, an epigram, 
and even a tale of dainty riskiness : but they could also de- 
vote years to The Spirit of Laws and the Essay on Man- 

Long before its iconoclastic work was fully done, the 
eighteenth century had grown weary of negation. De- 
structive wit and the quest of luxurious pleasure ceased 
to be the sole ideals. The "enlightened mind" aspired to 
turn into a "beautiful soul." Virtue and Cleverness 
fought for the crown. Surfeited society craved for a re- 
turn to nature; "simplicity" was the latest fad of minds 

16 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

which were the reverse of primitive. Of this new tuna of 
the French spirit, the immense vogue of Rousseau was the 
clearest symptom. But the delicate hedonism and flash- 
ing irony of the Pompadour era had not disappeared. 
Rousseau alone, among the leaders, broke openly with the 
"Enlightenment/' and brought upon his head as many 
curses as blessings. On the eve of the Revolution, So- 
ciety, although it was yearning for pastures green, was 
still witty, with more than a suspicion of frivolity and 
wickedness. Between the drawing-room and the country- 
side, it compromised on the comic-opera hamlet of Tri- 
anon. "Virtue" was not to be officially supreme in France 
until the dictatorship of Robespierre : its reign is remem- 
bered as "The Terror." 

The Revolution, which includes the Empire, was the 
climax of rationalism, classicism and autocracy. The 
ideal slowly elaborated through three centuries was at 
last fulfilled: France was united, leveled, standardized 
under a strong central government: in Europe, she was 
supreme. In that tragic quarter of a century, the Revo- 
lution forms a complete cycle of its own. It went through 
all the phases of ardent aspiration, desperate fanaticism, 
cynical discouragement, threatened relapse into chaos, 
and finally resignation to mere material efficiency. Ful- 
fillment is another word for suicide: the classical syn- 
thesis was dead before 1815. The factors of the new age, 
Romanticism, the historical spirit, the industrial revo- 
lution were obscurely at work. But the fight of shadow 
against shadow, the ghost of the Revolution against the 
ghost of the Ancient Regime, was to continue on the 
political stage for several generations. 

These pictures blend easily into one another. Yet the 
connection between them is not always easy to trace. 
The method constantly used by Jacques Bainville to "ex- 
plain" the course of French history consists in linking 
important events with the phrase: "It was inevitable 
that . . ." This is convenient, but meaningless. What- 
ever actually happened did happen, irretrievably : whether 
it was inevitable or not, we shall never know. Narrative 

Introduction 17 

history is $ series of biographical romances which, if they 
were not true, often would strain credibility. It is hard 
enough to follow the most "inevitable" of historical proc- 
esses ; when we have to deal with conflicts of processes, the 
difficulty increases in geometric ratio ; when personal and 
purely accidental elements are introduced, reason might 
as well abdicate. There was no "reason" why the legiti- 
mate heir of a Catholic crown should be a Huguenot 
prince; no "reason" why that adventurous pretender 
should not be a coward or a fool like many of his cousins, 
instead of being a man of unusual valour and sagacity; 
no "reason" why a fanatic should not have killed him, 
instead of Henry III, in 1589; and so ad infinitum. Yet 
under the irrational surface of history, vast tendencies 
flow in fairly steady streams. They merge or clash, 
slacken or rush ahead : but they are constant enough, and 
sufficiently independent from minor accidents, to be ame- 
nable to some rough kind of law. For that reason, they 
- are the proper study of the historian who is not merely 
a seeker after the picturesque : concrete details count only 
in so far as they reveal these streams. 

Was there such a law to the evolution of the Classical 
Age? The simplest scheme that will give unity to these 
tendencies is the universal rhythm of Formation, Perfec- 
tion, Decadence. This standard pattern was specifically 
applied by Ferdinand Brunetiere to the history of classi- 
cal French literature ; and, in this case, it fits with p^r- 
ticular nicety, with a sort of truly classical symmetry. 
The great decade that saw the supreme flowering of clas- 
sical genius (1660-1670) is exactly half-way between 
Marignano and Waterloo. With this obvious division we 
have no fault to find. It is convenient, and, in the main, 
it is not in contradiction with the facts. But, in itself, it 
is too simple to be of much service. There were in the 
classical age inner contradictions which made it far less 
rational, far less classical than it sought to be. The ideal 

18 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

was definite enough: but French society was never able 
absolutely to conform to its own ideal. 

The first of these inner conflicts was caused by the 
persistence of medieval elements. French culture turned 
its back, somewhat too contemptuously, upon the middle 
ages : yet much of the middle ages survived, and could not 
be harmonized with the new principles. Feudalism was 
dead: but its trappings, titles, privileges, its caste con- 
sciousness and pride, remained long after they had be- 
come baseless and absurd. Not only did feudal preju- 
dices an<* abuses endure throughout even the "century of 
enlightenment/' but, at its very close, there was a virulent 
revival of nobiliary claims, a last desperate fight for ex- 
istence of a system which, for three centuries, had been 
a hollow shell. Under Louis XVI, it was more difficult 
for a commoner to rise in the army than it had been 
under Louis XIV, and it is doubtful whether Bossuet 
could have become a Bishop on the eve of the Revolution. 
It is this survival of the empty forms and petty annoy- 
ances of feudalism up to 1789 that compelled the Revolu- 
tion to be iconoclastic, thus giving the impression of a 
break in French history. 

The second cause of confusion was the discrepancy be- 
tween the true nature of the monarchy and its form. 
The national character of the King's power was obscurely 
felt by many; but it was accurately gauged by very few. 
It was difficult to realize that the monarch at Versailles, 
a nobleman among noblemen, was essentially the foe of 
the nobility, and the born leader of the middle class. It 
took the unconventional genius of Saint-Simon and the 
pitiless penetration of his disenchantment to discover in 
the brilliant reign of the Grand Monarch the triumph 
of "a vile bourgeoisie." Here is a phenomenon which 
after Spengler, we might call pseudo-morphism: the true 
basis of the government was the middle class, but, in ex- 
ternals, the supremacy of the privileged orders was un- 
questioned. The same confusion existed in the domain 
of thought and faith: whilst humanism and rationalism 
were the guiding principles, medieval theology had never 

Introduction 19 

formally abdicated. So freedom of thought was con- 
stantly encouraged, and no less constantly repressed. In 
the sixteenth century as well as in the eighteenth, phi- 
losophers were alternately favoured and persecuted. The 
Valois court struck an alliance with the Protestants, and 
forthwith massacred them. Louis XIV personally pro- 
tected Moliere, whilst Tartuffe was prohibited through 
the influence of the devout faction. The warmest apolo- 
gists of the French monarchy praise its instinctive wis- 
dom, and the unconscious consistency of its policy. On 
the conscious plane, the Kings and the privileged orders 
were guided, at times by classical ideas, more frequently 
by medieval shadows. The result was that an age which 
prayed so fervently to Reason showed itself, in its actions, 
far more capricious and far more chaotic than our own. 
A nation lives at the same time on several historical 
planes : Utopias and ghosts freely mingle with living men. 
The third inner contradiction is more special to the 
Classical Age. We have defined Classicism as a sort of 
bimetallism, a belief in the permanent harmony of two 
standards, Reason and Antiquity. Classicism had com- 
plete faith in the stability of this ideal: as a matter of 
fact, the balance between the two elements was constantly 
changing. At first, Reason accepted gratefully, enthusi- 
astically, the guidance of the antique tradition: even the 
freest mind in the sixteenth century, Montaigne, ex- 
pressed himself through a string of classical quotations. 
But, under such excellent training, Reason caught up 
with its teachers, and learned how to dispense with them. 
With Descartes, Reason affirmed its autonomy: nothing 
is to be accepted as true on authority, were it the au- 
thority of the Stagirite himself, but only if it be plainly 
evident to the enquiring mind. The revolutionary char- 
acter of Cartesianism was not immediately realized, al- 
though Bossuet was keen-sighted enough to discern it. 
The conscious turning point was the Quarrel of the An- 
cients and the Moderns : Reason bowed to its tutors, cour- 
teously enough, but expressed the determination of pro- 
ceeding without their further aid. In literature, this 

20 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

state of mind did not bear fruit for another hundred 
years : but in science, in religion, in politics. Reason was 
henceforth emancipated : nay, it began pouring upon its 
former associate. Tradition, a stream of contemptuous 
terms: abuses, prejudices, superstitions. Such is the hid- 
den rhythm, the inner drama of the classical age : the dis- 
sociation and conflict of its component elements. We 
find at first Reason working in cheerful subordination to 
Tradition ; then Reason emancipated, but still respectful ; 
Reason defiant; Reason triumphant. Some would be 
tempted to add: Reason, like President Paul Deschanel, 
going mad on its accession to power. 

There is therefore nothing static about that age of 
classic repose. The classical mind fought for spiritual 
peace, but never fully attained it. Classicism, even in 
the heyday of Louis XIV, was an ideal, not a spontane- 
ous reality. Hence the element of strain, of which all 
students of the period must be conscious. That very 
strain was not without grandeur, for it was a splendid 
display of human will. In this sense, the heroes of Cor- 
neille are the truest representatives of the Classical spirit. 
It had also its faults, likewise exemplified by Corneille : it 
made for stiffness, artificiality, even theatricality. That 
effort was not fully successful, and, at the time of the 
Revolution, the French had grown impatient beyond mea- 
sure with its prolonged failure. The failure is a matter 
of history no less than the effort : the continued chaos of 
local customs, weights and measures ; the teeming super- 
stitions, the irksome abuses, the manifold absurdities of 
the ancient regime are as much a part of the picture as 
the logic of Descartes, the common sense of Boileau, the 
elegance of Racine, the majestic serenity of Bossuet. 
But this multitudinous picture we can not attempt to 
paint. Our study will essentially be that of a great effort, 
earnest and sustained. It failed, as all forms of Funda- 

Introduction 21 

mentalism are bound to fail, because it wanted to chain 
living forces to an immovable point in history. But it 
was successful enough to dazzle many generations^ and to 
compel our respect even to-day. 




I. Rabeiais's conception of the Renaissance: rediscovery of an- 
tiquity. An injustice: the true Renaissance that of the eleventh 
century. "The Thirteenth^ Greatest of Centuries." Bewilderment 
in the fourteenth and fifteenth. 

II. Persistence of the Medieval tradition: most clearly exem- 
plified in Renaissance architecture; also in Clement Marot and 
in certain aspects of Rabelais. 

III. The great discoveries and the great inventions (compass, 
gunpowder, printing-press) not brought about by rediscovery of 

IV. The true Renaissance a psychological fact: revival of 
optimism, escape from fifteenth-century morbidity, the Triumph 
of Life. Typified by Rabelais, the emancipated monk. 

V. Rabelais. Pantagruelism: "Live in joy." Hymn to Panta- 
gruelion. The Abbey of Theleme. Naturism: true Humanism its 
highest form. 


i| ^OR that time was darksome, obscured with clouds 
M of ignorance, and savouring a little of the infelicity 
JL and calamity of the Goths, who had, wherever they 
set footing, destroyed all good literature; which, in my 
age, hath by divine goodness been restored into its former 
light and dignity. . - . Now it is that the minds of men 
are qualified with all manner of discipline, and the old 
sciences revived, which for many ages were extinct. Now 
it is, that the learned languages are to their pristine purity 
restored." 1 

These words, addressed by Gargantua to his son Pan- 
tagruel, express with all possible definiteness the very 
spirit of the Renaissance. It was a deliberate condemna- 
tion of "Gothic" barbarism ; it was an eager return to the 
light of antiquity. Such it was felt to be at the time ; such 
it remained in the minds of generation after generation, 

1 Rabelais, Book II, Ch. VIII, Urquhart's translation. 


26 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

unchallenged for three centuries. This conception of the 
Renaissance can hardly be disputed without transgressing 
the limits of the paradoxical and venturing into the realm 
of wilful nonsense. 

Yet the feeling has grown that the name Renaissance 
is at least an exaggeration, and implies an injustice. It is 
not without cause that Henry Osborn Taylor, for instance, 
in his two substantial volumes on the sixteenth century, 
sought to avoid altogether that question-begging term. 
The word "Gothic" has long been redeemed from oppro- 
brium. From purely "barbaric/ 5 its meaning changed to 
"picturesque and romantic," as in the "Gothic" novel of 
the late eighteenth century ; and, in the nineteenth, Victor 
Hugo, among others, restored the "Gothic" among the 
very summits of art. To this revaluation of the Gothic 
must correspond a reconsideration, and perhaps a devalu- 
ation, of the Renaissance. The term will remain, right or 
wrong, just as "America" will perpetuate the name of 
Amerigo Vespucci ; but it needs to be reinterpreted. Rabe- 
lais and his contemporaries were not wholly mistaken : but 
they were ill-informed and unwittingly unfair. Perhaps 
indeed were they unfair to the best there was in them. 

If the word Renaissance has any meaning, it applies 
much more literally to the eleventh century than to the 
sixteenth. The English language, more fortunate than 
the French, is able to mark a clear distinction between the 
"Dark Ages" and the "Middle Ages." The half -millen- 
nium that followed the fall of Rome was "Gothic" in the 
worst sense. The hordes of blond beasts had well-nigh ex- 
tinguished civilization; nor could much be saved by the 
barbaric Church they had fashioned in their own image. 
Antique culture had disappeared almost as completely 
as Christian mansuetude. Without Byzantium and the 
Arabs, it seems as though the light might have gone out 
altogether. A few barbarians of genius, a Theodoric, a 
Brunhilda, a Dagobert, struggled fitfully against the 
night. But even the greatest of these, Charlemagne, failed 
to dispel the darkness. After him, two interminable cen- 
turies of hopeless chaos. 

The Renaissance and Medieval Tradition 27 

Yet, during these five hundred years, Western Europe 
had served its long apprenticeship, painfully, obscurely, 
but not in vain. No definite turning point can be assigned ; 
no cause for the change of heart can be found in any par- 
ticular event or in the career of any one man. But, about 
the year 1000, evidences of a new birth were not lacking. 
The old legend that Christendom had awaited destruction 
in the year 1000 still has symbolical value: it seems as 
though the world, recovering from its terror, had embraced 
life with a new vigour. Anarchy was everywhere slowly 
yielding to some rough feudal order ; the monks were re- 
forming themselves and the Church. The glorious words 
of Raoul Glaber can not be quoted too often : "The earth, 
shaking off the rags of its antiquity, was covering itself 
anew with a white mantle of churches." Within less than 
a century, we find the evidences of restored confidence and 
restless energy in the great movement of the first crusade ; 
in the rapid progress of Romanesque architecture from a 
debased pastiche of the Byzantine to an art singularly 
robust and original; in the transformation of that art 
into primitive Gothic; in the growth of definite vernacu- 
lar literatures ; in the first faint adumbrations of national 
organization and national feeling. Then was our world 
born. The very dynasties which ruled in the eleventh cen- 
tury are still represented to-day, and our culture has 
never known again such an eclipse as that of the Dark 
Ages. Compared with this almost magic transformation, 
the revival of the sixteenth century loses much of its sig- 

This rapid evolution led to "the thirteenth, greatest 
of centuries, 55 to borrow from a Catholic historian a title 
which may be disputable, but which is by no means ab- 
surd. Appropriately, the age closed with the vision of 
Dante, a Summa Poetica to be placed by the side of the 
Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, and by the 
side of those great poems and treatises in chiseled stone 
and filtered light, the cathedrals of Paris and Chartres, 
of Amiens and Rheims. But after that? Not darkness 
again : only, in France at least, a strange, sickly twilight 

28 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

In which both faith and reason nearly lost their way. 
The true "Middle Ages' 5 ended even before the direct 
line of the Capetians. 

For this arrested growth of the medieval spirit, many 
causes have been suggested. The economic interpreters 
of history have their theories, in which the Black Death 
plays an important part. So far as France is concerned, 
the Hundred Years War alone would seem to be sufficient 
reason. But the cultural life of the country was not yet 
fully identified with the fate of the national dynasty. 
Whilst the French king was in distress, whilst many of 
his provinces were devastated by his own bands as well as 
by those of the enemy's, other parts, under English or 
Burgundian rule, enjoyed long periods of comparative 
quiet ; Bordeaux, in particular, was markedly prosperous. 
So the war is not an all-sufficient explanation. 

It may be noted also that the three centers of civiliza- 
tion from which Northwestern Europe had most to learn 
were, in the fourteenth century, in full decline. The re- 
vived Greek Empire was but a puny shadow, fighting 
against impossible odds; the Arabs had lost leadership 
in the Eastern Mediterranean to the more barbaric 
Turks ; and the Moors of Spain were slowly receding be- 
fore the reconquering Christian tide. Still, Western Eu- 
rope in the fourteenth century was no longer dependent 
upon cultural importations. The student of culture must 
seek for the trouble in the very heart of culture. 

Medieval civilization was essentially a Christian civili- 
zation; Christianity had then two lights, the Pope of 
Rome and the University of Paris; and both lights had 
grown dim. The Papacy had been humbled and enfee- 
bled by the sixty-seven years of its "Babylonian Cap- 
tivity" at Avignon (1309-1376) ; its return to Rome was 
the signal for a long series of schisms. Two Popes, and 
even three, anathematized one another. Heresies were 
breaking out in Bohemia and in England; the Council 
proclaimed its superiority over the Pope, and the French 
King his own supremacy in the administration of the 
French Church. For a world which, with Dante, had so 

The Renaissance and Medieval Tradition 29 

passionately yearned for unity, such anarchy seemed to 
portend spiritual death. 

The division of the Church could be healed, and was 
healed; but the great theological school, the University of 
Paris, the fountain-head of Christian philosophy, had lost 
its vitality beyond hopes of recovery. The task of formu- 
lating the data of revelation in the terms of Aristotelian 
logic had been performed once for all. Henceforth scho- 
lasticism could go no farther : it could only lose itself in 
the intricate maze of its own subtle absurdity. And from 
such a fate there was no appeal: the Masters of Unrea- 
son were entrenched in their double infallibility, as theo- 
logians and as logicians. So the beacon set on Mount 
St. Genevieve diffused palpable darkness ; all the efforts of 
the Doctors were bent on discovering even the most timid 
ray of light, in order to extinguish it. 

Rabelais was not wrong therefore in referring to the 
period from which France was just emerging as "dark- 
some, obscured with clouds of ignorance." He was wrong 
in assuming that such darkness had prevailed ever since 
"the Goths" had put out the light of ancient culture. 
The modern world had evolved a light of its own, which 
was burning still. The eclipse that left the fourteenth 
and the fifteenth centuries so bewildered was neither com- 
plete nor permanent. The rudiments of the modern secu- 
lar state existed, as early at least as the days of Philip 
the Fair; the keyword of modern science, experimenta- 
tion, had been uttered by Roger Bacon ; the sturdy com- 
mon sense of the middle class had asserted itself in John 
of Meung's Romance of the Rose. Within the Church 
herself, not only radical reformers like Wyclif and Hus, 
but quiet spiritual influences like those of a Kempis and 
Gerson proved that literalism, scholasticism and clerical- 
ism had not completely stifled the life of the soul. No 
new revelation was therefore necessary: only the release 
of undiminished energies now tangled up and wasted in 
obscure conflict. And the Church had repeatedly proved 
that she possessed that power of self -rejuvenation: with 
the Cluniacs in the tenth century, with the Friars in the 

30 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

thirteenth. Had antiquity not been "rediscovered, 95 as 
the phrase goes, the progress of the human mind would 
hardly have been delayed. That "rediscovery" was much 
rather a sign of renewed activity than its starting point. 


It would be unsafe, therefore* to take the revival of 
classical learning as a center in our study of the sixteenth 
century. It was by no means purely incidental : but nei- 
ther was it essential. Our impression of history is to a 
large extent derived from bookmen, who are inclined to 
exaggerate the importance of bookish knowledge and of 
purely literary fashions. The sixteenth century contin- 
ues the fifteenth, not the third. 

This is particularly clear in the art of the time, and 
most evident in architecture. Of the three elements which 
were then blended, the national tradition, the influence 
of Italy and the models of antiquity, the first was over- 
whelming, the second superficial, the third comparatively 
negligible. It is not in the sixteenth century, but late 
in the eighteenth, or under Napoleon, that we find in 
France actual pastiches of Greco-Roman monuments. 
Under Louis XII and Francis I, the antique and even 
the Italianate affected the details of ornamentation, not 
the structure of the edifices ; and this decoration of for- 
eign origin, whilst frequently superior to that of the 
Flamboyant period, did not compare in exquisite fancy 
and loving realism with the purely French carving of the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Late Gothic and so- 
called Renaissance merge by imperceptible degrees, as in 
the Church of Brou 9 or in the steeples of Tours, with their 
graceful cupolas and lanterns. There are few more de- 
lightful pieces of architecture than these delicate hybrids. 
The style is represented everywhere in France, particu- 
larly in Burgundy, Normandy and in the Loire region. 
But the Parisian examples of it are naturally the best 
known, and they are also among the most charming. St. 
Eustache suffers from the vicinity of the vast utilitarian 

The Renaissance and Medieval Tradition 31 

sheds of the Halles Centrales; the eighteenth century 
clapped on to its West front a morose and utterly com- 
monplace fa9ade; the early nineteenth saw fit to bob its 
delicate central spire in order to make room for a sema- 
phoric telegraph; and the niches of its portals were be- 
reft of their statuettes. In spite of so much Vandalism, 
the Church remains impressive without: within, the com- 
bination of majestic restraint and aerial fantasy is well- 
nigh unique. In all essentials, it is purely Gothic; yet 
the details reveal unmistakably the influence of Italy. 
St. Etienne-du-Mont, on a smaller scale, is freer, quainter, 
even more appealing; within a stone's throw, the huge 
bare masses of Soufflot*s Pantheon enable us to measure 
the abyss between the spirit of the Renaissance and the 
systematic imitation of Antiquity. 

In secular architecture, we find the same character- 
istics : medieval buildings choose to adorn themselves with 
the fashionable garments of Italy, but at the core, they 
remain French and medieval. Already in the fifteenth 
century, the great feudal castles had discarded some of 
their forbidding military gear : in its inner court at least, 
Pierrefonds is a palace rather than a fortress. Italians 
may have supervised the works of some chateaux in the 
Loire region: but these famed buildings are racy of the 
soil and rooted in local history. They retain the high 
roofs, the richly ornamented dormers, the huge decora- 
tive chimneys that give such spirited grace to their sky- 
line : all the charm of Chambord is found above the point 
where an Italian edifice would end. Their winding stairs 
are still frequently housed in jutting turrets. They have 
moats and machicolations, and round towers at the cor- 
ners, as though they were still expecting a siege: just as 
the kings and the great lords still donned, for their state 
portraits, medieval armours embossed with classical 
scenes. Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceaux, Chambord belong 
to the days "when knighthood was in flower" the flower, 
perversely enough, blooming long after the season of 
fruitage was over. The City Hall in Paris is Parisian, 
not classical, in its inspiration. Its sharp roof of slate 

m The Life and Death of an Ideal 

brought no foreign note into the serried mass of the medi- 
eval city; and its campanile was properly a belfry of 
Northern France. 

Architecture is the simplest as well as the grandest 
symbol of a civilization, and therefore the most effective. 
The spirit of St. Eustache and Chambord was no less 
patent in literature. The greatest names in the first half 
of the sixteenth century are Clement Marot and Francois 
Rabelais : an ill-assorted pair of worthies, an elfish sprite 
and a fleshly giant; but both continue without a break 
the purely Gallic tradition. 

Marot is a more fortunate Villon, a less aristocratic 
Charles of Orleans. He liked to be called the French 
Vergil, on the strength of a pun: for Vergil also was 
called M aro. There is no closer tie between himself and 
classical antiquity. Greek remained Greek to him, and 
the Latin authors he enjoyed, Vergil and Ovid, had never 
ceased to be favourites in the middle ages. He trans- 
lated them, with prettiness rather than with vigour, but 
he was not inspired by them. His true classics were those 
of the last three centuries, the Golden Legend, Launcdot, 
the Romance of the Rose, and Villon. In ^ language 
and versification, he attempted no reform: indeed he 
verged deliberately on the archaic. He still loved the old 
forms which du Bellay and Ronsard were so contemptu- 
ously to brush aside; rondel or ballad, he handles them 
all, not with the supreme and secret power of Villon, but 
with exquisite mastery. He likes to juggle with rhyme, 
but his taste keeps him from rivalling the verbal acro- 
batics of his immediate predecessors. His merits, which 
are not to be despised, have nothing to do with ancient 
or modern Rome. The quiet humour, veiled in conscious 
naivete; the wit that wraps into a jest, with the same^ deft- 
ness, a madrigal or an epigram ; the courteous smile, ironi- 
cal and caressing; the "elegant badinage" which appealed 
even to the gruff pedagogue Boileau: all that is French 
of the French, and not classical in the least. 

Destiny has dealt curiously with this frail laureate of 
courtly lore. Extolled beyond measure in his lifetime, he 

The Renaissance and Medieval Tradition 33 

ought by rights to have been permanently obscured by 
the more substantial glory of Ronsard. But Ronsard fell 
into unjust disrepute, and Marot was revealed again, 
neat and nimble, with his quizzical smile. La Fontaine 
elected him as one of his masters ; Racine, Jean-Baptiste 
Rousseau, Voltaire himself pastiched his epigrams; and 
to the present day there is a slender rill of society verse 
"in the Marotic style. 55 A stranger whim of fate, ag we 
shall see, turned this graceful trifler into a half-hearted, 
very unsubstantial Protestant : an odd companion for the 
redoubtable Calvin! He essayed, on his thin medieval 
pipe, to render the Oriental strangeness and the fierce 
majesty of the Psalms. For French literature, It was a 
disaster : his poor little version blocked the way to greater 

In his art, Rabelais also belongs to the middle ages. 
He represents the popular tradition as Marot represented 
the courtly the second part of the Romance of the Rose 
instead of the first, Meung against Lorris. He has the 
prolixity of the old romancers, but with a torrential 
abundance which was not in them. He continues on a 
vaster scale the ironical, plebeian epic, Reynard the Fox; 
he keeps up the vein of the macaronic sermons, the farces, 
the fableaux. His framework is a story of giants from 
the local folklore. When, in the apologue of the Wood- 
cutter and his lost hatchet, he takes us to Olympus, his 
Jupiter is a patriarchal French king, a Saint Louis un- 
der the Oak of Vincennes, a Louis XII, Father of the 
People. Of classic measure he shows no trace; and his 
scattered attempts at Ciceronian eloquence are dead 


"Printing likewise is now in use, so elegant and so 
correct, that better can not be imagined, although it was 
found out but in my time by divine inspiration, as by a 
diabolical suggestion on the other side was the invention 
of ordnance." Thus Gargantua, in that famous letter 

34 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

to his son Pantagruel, which Is the true battle hymn of 
the Renaissance. 1 The age was marked by inventions 
and discoveries, no less than by the revival of ancient 
learning. These inventions Rabelais mentions paren- 
thetically, as it were, and gives us to understand that 
they were by-products of the true Renaissance, the resto- 
ration of the "learned tongues." This opinion is no 
longer unchallenged. At the risk of being called a Beo- 
tian, it may well be maintained that the inventions and 
discoveries that marked the dawn of the classical era were 
of vastly greater significance than all the treasure-troves 
of archeology and philology. For the average man, even 
for the well-educated man, the face of our world would 
hardly be affected if the text of Vergil or even of Plato 
had been established with less scrupulous care. On the 
other hand, a world without the printing press and with- 
out America would be very different from the one we 
know. We do not deny that it might actually be better 
without these two disturbing factors : we are speaking in 
terms of tangible facts, and not of values. 

Nor can we admit that these new conquests in the ma- 
terial world were in any sense the result of revived schol- 
arship. They were at most concomitant with it. The ex- 
pansion of the physical universe beyond the limits of early 
medieval thought, but also beyond those of ancient knowl- 
edge, had been under way for two centuries before the 
time of Rabelais. Marco Polo had not been urged by 
Plato or Aristotle. The mariner's compass, without 
which maritime discovery on a grand scale was unthink- 
able, had obscurely come into use in the thirteenth cen- 
tury. The Portuguese and the Spaniards who ventured 
into uncharted seas were impelled by the spirit of rest- 
less adventure that had filled the Normans and the Cru- 
saders. Columbus thought of gold, of power, and of souls 
to be saved ; he was a Knight of the Cross, not a classicist. 
The great epic of discovery was the sudden fruition of 
slowly accumulating medieval efforts. It was soon to 
transform political and economic conditions, and ulti- 
ma Book I, Ck VIII. 

The Renaissance and Medieval Tradition 35 

mately to bring about a recasting of our theological con- 
ceptions: it was not a return to the confined Mediter- 
ranean world. 

Gunpowder was in practical use in the early stages of 
the Hundred Years War. For good or evil, it con- 
tributed to the reshaping of civilization. It dealt a death 
blow to actual feudalism, allowing only the titles and 
trappings to remain a while longer. It made the Kings 
supreme, and for the ubiquitous, erratic warfare of bands 
and barons, it substituted dynastic conflicts, national am- 
bitions, and the elusive balance of European power. But 
whether gunpowder was invented by the Devil, as Ra- 
belais puts it, or by a monk, as tradition maintains, cer- 
tain it is that its formula was not found in a classical 

Most potent of all was the invention of the printing 
press. It was destined to create, after many generations, 
a democracy of culture, the essential condition of political 
democracy. The connection between this, tremendous in- 
strument of the modern mind and the revival of classical 
philology is most shadowy. It was not at Constantinople 
or Rome that it was evolved, but in Germany. It was 
first used, not for Greek or Latin masterpieces, but for 
Bibles and works of piety. The restoration of ancient 
literatures was thus but one evidence among many of the 
quivering eagerness which filled the European mind. 


Our contention is that the sixteenth century continues 
the fifteenth; but with a difference. That difference is 
the true "Renaissance." It can not be defined in any 
material terms, not even in terms of learning. It was a 
revival of optimism. Perhaps the point will be made 
clearer if it is illustrated with a modern instance. 

In the last decade of the nineteenth century, France 
was permeated with a spirit of self-depreciation and 
haunted with the idea of decadence. Anthropologists 
like Vacher de Lapouge, polymaths like Dr. Gustave Le 

36 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Bon, popular journalists like Demolins united in pro- 
claiming the racial decay of their own people and seek- 
ing the Causes of Anglo-Saxon Superiority. The hope- 
less incapacity of the French in the colonial field was 
taken for granted ; it was admitted also that their politi- 
cal life could be nothing but a succession of malodorous 
scandals. Alsace-Lorraine was more than half -forgotten : 
not out of pacifist idealism, but out of lassitude and 
despair. Poets adopted "Decadence" as their watchword. 
The ironical nihilism of Renan, Anatole France and Jules 
Lemaitre corresponded with the dilettantism of critics like 
Remi de Gourmont, the erudite and naive perversities of 
Huysmans in A Rebours, or the truculent anarchism of 
Laurent Tailhade. 

Ten years later, long before the outbreak of the Great 
War, we find, not one isolated prophet of a French Re- 
naissance, but a whole chorus lustily singing France Her- 
self Again and The Reawakening of French Pride. That 
such confidence was not misplaced was made manifest by 
France's attitude throughout the great ordeal, and 
through the more searching ordeal of unaided reconstruc- 
tion. What had taken place? Literally nothing. M. 
Loubet and M. Fallieres were Presidents instead of Car- 
not and Felix Faure. No new manuscript had been 
brought from Constantinople: on the contrary, classical 
studies had received a rather sharp blow in 1902. France 
had been suffering from a psychological disease : without 
the aid of any drug, surgical operation or systematic diet, 
her robust constitution had enabled her to recover. The 
details of such crises are fascinating to study; their 
causes are not necessarily mysterious and not invariably 
obscure; but they are infinitely complex. In such cases, 
the surest way of misunderstanding history is to use a 
single influence as an Open Sesame. 

The fifteenth century had all the elements of great- 
ness of the sixteenth except confidence and joy. It was 
the Triumph of Death. The Dance of Death was its 
favourite theme; it saw the world as a gaudy charnel- 
house. The poems of Villon, whether they sing of fears 

The Renaissance and Medieval Tradition 37 

or regrets, exhale an acrid, pungent odour of death. The 
sixteenth century was the Triumph of Life. 

Why such a change? Political circumstances explain 
it to some extent, but they do not go very far. The long 
nightmare of the Hundred Years War was over ; during 
the second half of the fifteenth century, France enjoyed 
almost untroubled internal peace. A country with va- 
ried agricultural resources, a people of invincible, ant- 
like tenacity, recuperate rapidly. Villon, darkened by 
his personal experience, was already a little behind the 
time in his tragic outlook on life. All this is true. Yet 
material prosperity and political order do not invariably 
breed optimism. The literature of the Second French 
Empire was disenchanted; nor did the Bismarckian era 
sound a triumphant note. 

It would not help either to say that human nature 
needs hope, that despair can not be permanent. A pes- 
simistic philosophy may retain its hold for countless cen- 
turies. Buddhism remains unconquered. 

Perhaps, in this particular case, the legend of the year 
1000 may serve again as a symbolical illustration. Ac- 
cording to the old story, the world was awaiting its doom 
at the turn of the first millennium. Nothing happened: 
and that very "nothing" brought the release. In the same 
way, the late medieval world was filled with nameless an- 
guish, because its spiritual stars had been obscured. But 
no apocalyptic catastrophe occurred. France worked on, 
and prospered, although Popes and Councils wrangled, 
and the Sorbonne was in its dotage. These were no eter- 
nal stars then, only flickering lanterns carried by bewil- 
dered men. When this was realized, France burst out 
laughing at her former guides and at her former fears. 

The first condition of Rabelais's joy in life was his es- 
cape from the nether world of spiritual dread. His anti- 
monachism and his anti-Sorbonnism are fundamental. 
Not that they were wholly new : to poke fun at monks and 
theologians had been a favourite theme throughout the 
Age of Faith. But whilst men had been attacked, with a 
fierceness that surprises the modern mind, spiritual au- 

38 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

thorities were not directly challenged. With Rabelais* 
they are not so much challenged as ignored. The me- 
dieval satirist, whilst he is jeering, turns round uneasily, 
in mortal fear of the Devil; he is ready to fall on his 
knees before the very friar he is deriding. Rabelais's 
laughter is perfect freedom. He had later to compro- 
mise, to edulcorate his attacks, for he had no desire of 
becoming a martyr. But if his pen was not wholly free, 
his soul was tormented by no scruple and by no fear. ^ And 
it must be remembered that Rabelais is not a solitary 
genius. He was a sociable, active, practical man, in close 
touch with his times. His books were immediately and 
widely popular, as he had meant them to be. He was pro- 
tected, in his adventurous, semi-detached ecclesiastical ca- 
reer, by great lords and even by Princes of the Church. 
He may be taken, therefore, as a symbol of the medieval 
mind emancipated at last : emancipated, not through the 
magic of ancient books, but simply because it had stead- 
ily grown, whilst its keepers had fallen into decay. 

The keyword of Rabelais, the essence of Pantagrud- 
ism, is "Vivez joyeux" Live in joy, He picked out for 
his subject a merry old tale of giants : a happy choice, 
for the human mind, released from its fetters, felt like a 
young giant gambolling on a young earth. Rabelais's 
heroes go through the world with Gargantuan and Pan- 
tagruelic appetite for all good things : for tripes and sau- 
sages, hams and cheeses, beeves and muttons roasted 
whole, and washed down with torrents of wine ; but also 
for he is a bibber and glutton only in jest and symbol 
they are craving for all experience and all knowledge, 
for the Trivium and Quadrivium of old, and "all the lore 
of the Cabbalists," for "Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Chal- 
dean and Latin, 5 ' for "all sorts of herbs and flowers that 
grow upon the ground," and "all the various metals that 
are hid within the bowels of the earth" ; as Rabelais is no 
bookworm or pedant, his characters are eager for all 

The Renaissance and Medieval Tradition 39 

sports, games, pleasures and exercises, for swimming, rid- 
ing, fencing and jousting; and at last, he makes them 
also hunger and thirst for righteousness, knowing full 
well that "science without conscience is but ruination of 
the soul." 

This triumphant Pantagruelism inspires the chapters, 
full of quaint erudition, practical knowledge and poetic 
enthusiasm, which, at the end of the third book, he de- 
votes to the praise of the blessed herb Pantagraelion. 
Literally, Pantagruelion is mere hemp; symbolically, it 
is human industry. Capping the wildest achievements of 
his own times with wilder boast and prophecy, Kabelais 
first shows man, by virtue of this Pantagruelion, explor- 
ing the remotest regions of his globe, "so that Taproban 
hath seen the heaths of Lapland, and both the Javas, 
the Biphaean Mountains." Men "scoured the Atlantic 
Ocean, passed the tropics, pushed through the torrid 
zone, measured all the Zodiac, sported under the equi- 
noctial, having both poles level with their horizon. 55 
Then, "all marine and terrestrial gods were on a sudden 
all afraid. 55 What is to prevent Pantagruel and his chil- 
dren from discovering some still more potent herb, by 
means of which they shall scale the very heavens? Who 
knows but they may "contrive a way to pierce into the 
high aerian clouds, and shut and open as they please the 
sluices from whence proceed the floodgates of the rain 
. . then, prosecuting their ethereal voyage, they may 
step into the lightning workhouse and shop . . . where, 
seizing on the magazine of heaven, they may discharge a 
bouncing peal or two of thundering ordnance for joy of 
their arrival at these new supernal places. . . . And we 
the Gods shall then not be able to resist the impetuosity 
of their intrusion, . . . whatever regions, domiciles or 
mansions of the spangled firmament they shall have a 
mind to see, to stay in, or to travel through for their 
recreation. 551 

The spirit of the great adventure, the onrush of 
man 5 s endeavour, devouring space, annihilating time, yea, 

*Book III, Ch. LI, Motteux's translation, condensed. 

40 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Bergson would add, perhaps conquering Death itself, has 
never been more gloriously expressed than in these pages 
of gigantic, gorgeous and lucid humour. 

There is much solid truth in Rabelais's most daring 
flights of prophecy. His Abbey of Theleme seemed at 
one time as wild as the rest. It has proved to be, not 
Utopia, but anticipation. Theleme is not, as those un- 
read in Pantagruelism might imagine, a refuge for the 
sensualist and the slothful; it is purely and simply an 
ideal Anglo-Saxon university. Generously endowed, 
richly housed, well-provided with libraries in all lan- 
guages, coeducational, blending sport, social life and 
study, it is the perfect antithesis of the old Sorbonne, and 
the perfect prototype of, for instance, Stanford in Cali- 
fornia. And what is the oft-discussed motto "Fay ce que 
vouldras" Do as you please, but the pithy statement of 
a policy for which we are seeking in vain a properly 
pedagogical name, "the elective system," "the indepen- 
dent study plan," and "students' self-government"? "Be- 
cause, saith Rabelais in justification of his gentle anarch- 
ism, men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conver- 
sant in honest companies, have naturally an instinct and 
spur that prompteth them unto virtuous actions, and 
withdraws them from vice, (an instinct) which is called 
honour" On our examination books, we read: "The 
Honour System is an institution in this University. Its 
existence and enforcement rest with every loyal student." 
Theleme is truly a University, not an Abbey. Its 
ideal is not selfish reclusion : when the time comes, youths 
and maidens leave their Alma Mater ; friendships formed 
at Theleme "increase to greater height in the state of mat- 
rimony"; and the Thelemites bring to their struggling 
brothers without the walls a reflection at least of their 

serene vision. 

No philosophical label will fit this Pantagruelism: it is 
like the clear cool water of the Divine Bottle, all things 
to all men, according to their nurture and fancy. Of all 
possible tags, materialism and sensualism would be the 
worst; rationalism is thin and cold; Pantheism sounds 

The Renaissance and Medieval Tradition 41 

well, but, unexplained, is mere sound. Naturism would 
do better. Rabelais loves Nature in all her shapes and 
moods, even the lowliest; and he hates only those who 
struggle in vain against good Mother Nature, and who 
worship the sullen idol Antiphysis. But Nature, for Ra- 
belais, is Life; and life is the life of man. His philoso- 
phy is Humanism in the wider and deeper sense the love, 
respect and service of Man, in whom we are taught to see 
the image of God. 

Rabelais has in abundance faith, hope and charity; 
and yet, for the Supernaturalist, he is the arch-heretic. 
He believes in Man, as though fallen men were not to- 
tally depraved; he preaches joy, as though this world 
were not a vale of tears, in preparation for a probable 
eternity of torture. Not in his obscenities, which never 
hurt a soul, but in his large indulgence for his fellow 
men, do the orthodox detect his damning sin. Who 
knows? The wedding guest at Cana, He who said: "The 
Kingdom of God is among you," may be claimed as a Mas- 
ter by Rabelais as well as by Calvin. 



I. Two conceptions of Humanism: faith in human nature, 
study of Greco-Roman culture. Latin: a living language in the 
Middle Ages; Vergilian and Ciceronian standards turn Renais- 
sance Latin into a dead language. Progress of the vernacular in 
the sixteenth century. 

II. Greek: its revival; not due to the fall of Constantinople. 
Francis I and Bude; hostility of the Sorbonne. Great vogue 
of Greek among scholars. Slender results; French culture re- 
mains based on Latin. 

III. Influence of Italy greater than direct influence of Greece 
or Rome. Current of anti-Italianism a proof of the strength of 
that influence. Was it due to the Italian Wars? 

IV. Genuine superiority of Italian culture in the early six- 
teenth century; its causes. Persistence of Italian influence in 
the seventeenth century. 

V. Alleged contributions of the Italo-Antique Renaissance to 
French culture: sense of personality and sense of beauty. Ex- 
cessive cult of form. The leaders of the Pleiad, du Bellay and 
Ronsard, are genuine poets and go beyond formal humanism. 

THE "new spirit" in the sixteenth century was not 
the sudden discovery of long-hidden wealthy alien 
to French tradition, brought over as if by a miracle 
from a foreign land or from remote ages. It was, as we 
have seen, a release of pent-up energies, a revival of self- 
confidence and pride. It transcended and conquered me- 
dievalism: but only by means of powers that had grown 
steadily throughout the Middle Ages. For this new 
spirit, the most apposite name might be Pantagruelism, 
the enormous, earnest and joyful love of life which filled 
Rabelais; and Pantagruelism faith in man, the love of 
man was essentially Humanism. If by "humanity" we 
mean with Cicero caritas generi humani, or if we find its 
clearest expression in the Homo sum of Terence, then a 


Influence of Antiquity and Italy 43 

man can be a humanist with little Latin and less Greek: 
the best humanists are seldom found in college cloisters. 

A more restricted signification, however, is attached to 
the word. Already Aulus Gellius under the Antonines 
asserted that "humanity" was not, as the vulgar might 
believe, synonymous with "philanthropy" or love of one's 
kind: it implied erudition and discipline in the arts, 
"quod . . * nos eruditwnem institutionemque in bonas 
artes dicimus" 

In the sixteenth century, the two conceptions were 
blended : Erasmus, Rabelais were humanists in both senses 
of the term. If it had come to a choice, it is infinitely 
probable that they would have clung to the spirit, and 
given up the letter. A confused fight went on for gen- 
erations between the two ideals of humanism, the humane 
and the formal. As a matter of fact, it has not yet come 
to a decision: to the present day, there are excellent 
minds in France who can not divorce "the humanities" 
from "the study of Greek and Latin." 

The Middle Ages had never ceased to revere and cul- 
tivate Latin, and in that field no actual Renaissance was 
necessary. About a hundred Roman writers were known 
to medieval scholars rather more than the average edu- 
cated man could name to-day. Nor were they mere names 
and titles. Ovid was the universal master in the Art of 
Love. Vergil's was literally a name to conjure with; it 
was not the premonition of a new classical dawn, but the 
strength of tradition, that made Dante elect him as his 
guide, master and lord. Only Tacitus and Lucretius 
seem to have suffered a prolonged and almost complete 
eclipse. No doubt the Renaissance brought with it a de- 
cided improvement in the quality of the Latin used by 
scholars. But, in this respect again, the usual concep- 
tion of a Renaissance is somewhat misleading. Medieval 
Latin had not invariably been corrupt. The universal 
progress of the eleventh and twelfth centuries had been 
felt in that field also. The poems of Alamis de Insulis, 
for instance, De Planctu Naturce and Anticlaudianus, are 
far from despicable. Scholasticism, with its pedantry, 

44 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

and its uncouth technical terms, created later an impres- 
sion of barbarousness, which was retrospectively and un- 
justly extended to the whole period. 

The efforts of the great Italian humanists, from 
Petrarch in his Africa to Cardinal Bembo, had the unex- 
pected effect of purifying Latin out of active existence. 
It was difficult enough for Latin to hold its own, in the 
increasing complexity of modern life, against the com- 
petition of the vernacular. A living Latin, true to its 
origins and to its principles, but free from pedantry, 
willing to grow with the times, making intelligibility, not 
classical elegance, its supreme goal, might have served the 
purpose. But with the handicap of artificial Vergilian 
and Ciceronian standards, Renaissance Latin, embalmed 
in its frigid perfection, became the dead imitation of a 
dead past. So we have to note the paradox that the cen- 
tury of the Renaissance marks, not the revival of Latin, 
but the beginning of its decadence. The Ordinance of 
Villers-Cotterets, in 1539, made French instead of Latin 
the official language of royal administration. The first 
purely scientific works to appear in the vernacular be- 
long to the same period: Ambroise Pare and medicine, 
Ramus and dialectics (1555). Calvin's French version 
of his Christian Institute (1540) made even theology ac- 
cessible in the vulgar tongue. The process continued, 
slowly, but unchecked : in the seventeenth century, French 
secured equality with Latin as the language of diplomacy. 


The true revival of learning, therefore, was that which 
took place, not in Latin, but in Greek. In this field, 
everything had to be done: broadly speaking, the Mid- 
dle Ages had been wholly ignorant of Greek. Even Aris- 
totle, the revered Master, was not known in the original ; 
some of his works reached the Western mind through 
Latin translations from the Arabic. The Homeric sto- 
ries had currency chiefly in the debased form of Dares 
the Phrygian and Dyctis. Plato was barely a name. In 

Influence of Antiquity and Italy 45 

this case, "Gothic night 5 * had reigned for nearly a thou- 
sand years. 

What caused the change? With the love of simplifica- 
tion which is almost a necessity of popular history, it was 
long ascribed to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and 
to the exodus of Byzantine scholars, laden with the trea- 
sures of Greek antiquity. This stock explanation is dan- 
gerously superficial. It lends excessive importance, for 
one thing, to a handful of grammarians, some of whom 
were rather disreputable, and none of whom ranked ex- 
tremely high in pure learning. It gives to mere texts an 
almost talismanic virtue. Seldom do political events like 
the capture of a city bring about changes in the realm 
of culture 9 unless culture itself be ready for the change. 
For instance, from 1204 to 1261, the Latins had held 
Constantinople. The result of their conquest was a brisk 
trade in relics, in which they were vitally interested, but 
not in manuscripts or in ideas, which they were not ready 
to appreciate. On the other hand, the veiled power of 
Greek thought and art was obscurely felt in Italy as 
early as the days of Petrarch. The Hellenic Renais- 
sance therefore was an infiltration and a growth, not a 
sudden irruption. 

Certain it is that the new learning was hailed with de- 
light by the best minds in France, whilst the theologians 
of the old Sorbonne growled. These last of the school- 
men quickly detected the scent of heresy in studies which 
disturbed their habits of mechanical infallibility. The 
Reform movement within the Church seemed to go hand 
in hand with Humanism, and increased their misgivings. 
Francis I sided with the progressives: he earned their 
lasting gratitude, and, through them, a fame perhaps 
more brilliant than his intellect. As early as 1520, he 
promised Guillaume Bude, most influential of French 
scholars, the foundation of a new College, devoted prin- 
cipally to the three classical tongues, Latin, Greek and 
Hebrew. This proclaimed the emancipation of scholar- 
ship from the tyranny of scholasticism ; and it was the 
first germ of the glorious College de France, still the 

46 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

highest school in the land, because it is the freest. It was 
not until 1529, however, that the scheme was at last real- 
ized, in very incomplete fashion, through the creation of 
Royal Professorships in Greek, Hebrew and Mathe- 
matics. Provincial universities followed. Lyons in par- 
ticular, the capital of Roman Gaul, the religious metrop- 
olis of France, and a cosmopolitan center second only to 
Paris, had a brilliant roll of scholarly translators, editors 
and printers. Rabelais, then a doctor at the General 
Hospital of Lyons, was a member of that learned crew; 
and so was Etienne Dolet, who was to expiate his free- 
dom of thought at the stake. As early as 1534<, Rabelais 
could assert that "without Greek, a man should be 
ashamed to account himself a scholar." And Ronsard, 
a young nobleman, went back to school to master the new 
learning. The greatest French Hellenists were then 
Turnebe and Daurat. Henry Estienne, whose father 
had produced a vast Thesaurus Linguce Latince (1581 
36) gave in 1572 his Thesaurus Lingua Greece, in some 
respects still an unsurpassed monument. 

Were the results commensurate with so much eager- 
ness and so much diligence? Hardly. Bude, Turnebe, 
Daurat, Estienne, are honoured names : in the history of 
French thought or of French literary expression, they 
count for very little. Rabelais was a voracious reader: 
the fruit of his classical studies is an erudition so pal- 
pable as to be frankly pedantic. But no style could be 
more completely devoid of Attic measure : this great clas- 
sical scholar is the most unclassical of French writers. In 
his philosophy, we find his own robust personality, and 
the optimistic naturalism of the early sixteenth century 
rather than the echo of Greek systems. He is not an 
orthodox Pyrrhonian, Stoic, Epicurean or Platonist: he 
is a rationalist and an eclecticist. 

The rediscovery of Platonism ought to have been the 
chief contribution of the Greek Renaissance : but French 
Neo-Platonism is singularly thin, not to say lifeless. If, 
as it is alleged, Platonism increased the tendency of 
French Classicism towards abstract generalizations, it was 

Influence of Antiquity and Italy 47 

a doubtful blessing ; but this assertion is too vague to be 
capable of proof. We find traces of Neo-Platonism in the 
rather obscure poems of the Lyons school, particularly 
in those of Maurice Sceve ; it inspired an admirable son- 
net of du Bellay, The Idea y without which no French 
anthology is complete; but that sonnet was borrowed 
from the Italian, and can not be credited to the direct 
influence of Greek. No doubt the poets of the Pleiad, 
and particularly Ronsard and Bai'f , loved to parade their 
Greek learning. Ronsard warned his readers at the out- 
set that "unless they were Greeks and Romans, this book 
would be nought but a heavy load in their hands." He 
revelled in accumulations of classical epithets : 

cuisse-ne Bacchus, Mystique, Hymenean, 
Carpime, Evaste, Agnien, Manique, Lenean, 
Evie y Evoulien, Baladin, Solitaire . . . 

and regretted not to be able to say of the Valois dynasty : 
Ocymore) dispotme, oligochronien. 

Such lines justify Boileau's jibe that "Ronsard's muse, 
in French, spoke Greek and Latin" ; they also account for 
the long eclipse of his fame. A greater Ronsard has 
gradually been rediscovered: but Ronsard the Hellenist 
remains safely dead. 

Two aspects only of Greek literature passed into 
French at the time of the Renaissance: Alexandrian 
poetry, through the Pleiad; and Plutarch, through 
Amyot's translation. Neither is negligible: but it must 
be confessed that both are minor developments. They do 
not represent the main stream of Hellenism. In other 
and larger fields, Roman supremacy remained unshaken. 
Although the French have studied Greek for nearly four 
centuries, they have never managed to learn it : yet there 
is a curious conformity, a pre-established harmony, as it 
were, between the Greek mind and the French. Through- 
out the Classical period, French lyrical poetry placed 
itself under the invocation of Pindar, but followed Hor- 
ace; the French epic, a sickly homunculus, patterned 
itself after Vergil, and not directly after Homer; the 

48 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

French tragedy was long influenced by Seneca rather 
than by Sophocles; the French comedy by Plautus and 
Terence, not Aristophanes. The model for orators was 
not Demosthenes, but Cicero; and Livy was familiar to 
all educated Frenchmen, whilst Thucydides was not. In 
the long line of French classics, only two are singled out 
because, to them, Greek was a fountain of living waters : 
Racine and Andre Chenier. The sixteenth century felt 
no doubt the freshness, the delicacy and the power of 
Greek. But the tradition of a thousand years, the influ- 
ence of the Catholic Church, the kinship with the popu- 
lar tongue, worked irresistibly in favour of Latin. In 
this again, the Renaissance failed to break away from the 
Middle Ages. 


More potent at first than the influence of antiquity 
was that of modern Italy. The Renaissance, in its es- 
sential elements, was not "caused 55 by the revival of clas- 
sical learning, or by the imitation of Italian models : but 
in its literary, artistic and social manifestations, it was 
deeply influenced by them. The colour of French cul- 
ture, of aristocratic culture at any rate, was no longer 
purely French : it was antique, and it was italianate : and 
italianate much more than antique. 

It has always been admitted that antiquity was re- 
vealed to France through Italy. But the impression 
often prevails that the Italians acted merely as organs 
of transmission : at best, curators of an incomparable mu- 
seum, cataloguers of a unique library, self-effacing teach- 
ers of a civilization no longer their own; at worst, glib 
and beggarly ciceroni through the mighty ruins of the 
ancient world. This is a distorted view. The Italians 
were admired and followed for their own sake, and de- 
served to be. Indeed, it may be claimed that the vogue 
of antiquity was in France to a large extent a by-product 
of Italian supremacy : "humanism" in the narrower sense 
was in France but an Italian fashion, and never took the 
same hold of the national mind as it did in its native 
country. Respected as a Guillaume Bude was, he never 

Influence of Antiquity and Italy 49 

was admired, courted, petted, spoiled, as was the case with 
some of the great Italian scholars. 

We are aware that in thus placing the Italian influ- 
ence above the antique, we are on dangerous ground, for 
we are at odds with the contemporaries themselves. The 
French in the sixteenth century took pride in acknowl- 
edging their indebtedness to Greece and Rome ; they were 
reluctant to confess their obligation to living neighbours, 
with whom they traded, intrigued and wrangled, and 
who, it must be said, easily roused feelings of distrust 
and even of contempt. Rafaello Piccoli suggests in- 
geniously that if through some cataclysm Italy had per- 
ished altogether early in the sixteenth century, the world 
would place her culture, without hesitation, on the same 
level as those of Greece and ancient Rome, the third and 
not the least of the great classical lights. But Italy ^sur- 
vived, a chaos of petty states, a chessboard for diplo- 
matists, a cockpit for mercenaries. Furthermore, the 
Italians themselves upheld the prejudice in favour of an- 
tiquity. Of their own superiority over their neighbours, 
they entertained very little doubt: like the Greeks of old, 
and the Chinese until yesterday, they considered all for- 
eigners as barbarians. But they did not then claim 
equality with their ancient masters. It was much later 
that "the century of Leo X" was placed on a level with 
those of Pericles and Augustus. So the French were 
hardly to blame if they adopted a historical perspective 
which was universally accepted in the Peninsula. 

The supremacy of the Italians in modern culture was 
therefore not admitted in so many words. On the con- 
trary, there is a strong current of anti-Italianism in the 
literature of the time. Du Bellay, who devoted such mag- 
nificent sonnets to The Antiquities of Rome, denounced 
without mercy, in his Regrets, the corruption of the 
Papal Court. He thus made effective use of a satirical 
contrast which was to become a favourite commonplace, 
and which is still found, unconsciously, in the etchings of 
Piranesi two centuries later: Italy is a land of awe-in- 
spiring ruins, haunted by lizards and lazzaroni. Henry 

50 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Estienne, the great printer and Hellenist,, gave much of 
his energy to a veritable anti-Italian crusade. In his Dia- 
logues of the New Italianized French Language (1578), 
he protested against the invasion of Italian words, which 
were turning French into a semi-Italian jargon, and 
against all the manners, tastes and costumes of ultramon- 
tane origin. He was vigorously with "Celtophile" against 
his opponent "Philausone." The defensive warfare of 
Estienne, however, establishes the reality of the danger 
that he was combating. Rabelais had poked fun at the 
Limosin scholar, who "deambulated by the compites and 
quadrivies of the inclyte urb vocitated Lutetia, and des- 
pumated the Latial verbocintion" ;* but in spite of such 
ludicrous extremes, in spite of the semi-humorous pedan- 
tries of Ronsard, it was hardly to be feared that sixteenth 
century France should become Latinized or Hellenized: 
Italianism, on the other hand, was an actual menace. 

If we look again at the French chateaux and churches 
of the time, we shall notice that they are French with 
Italian ornaments, and owe little directly to Greece and 
Rome. If we pick up a book of poems, especially of 
those which, like the best sonnets of Ronsard and du Bel- 
lay, have deserved to survive, we shall detect the influ- 
ence of Petrarch rather than that of Pindar. Amyot 
made the conventionalized heroes of Plutarch a part of 
the French ideal for three centuries : but the court of the 
Valois found its bible in II Cortegiano by Baldassare Cas- 
tiglione. Classical learning affected only the lesser half 
of mankind: very few women became good Latinists, 
hardly any studied Greek at all, but, in aristocratic cir- 
cles, all ladies knew Italian. 

In this case again, a cultural phenomenon is frequently 
explained through a mere political accident. It hap- 
pened that Charles VIII, a weak-minded megalomaniac, 
had shadowy claims to the Kingdom of Naples ; that his 
successor, good King Louis XII, the Father of the Peo- 
ple, had some pretensions to the Duchy of Milan. Thus 
it was that the French blundered into Italy, discovered 

1 Rabelais, Book II, Ch. VI. 

Influence of Antiquity and Italy 51 

Italy, and brought back that infection known as the Re- 

The facts are not so simple, and the process was far 
less dramatic. We do not want to deny the influence of 
the military expeditions across the Alps: we feel, how- 
ever, that in themselves, they would not have sufficed. 
The movement had started long before Charles VIIFs 
erratic foray through the Peninsula. Italy was no terra 
incognita. Italian merchants and bankers were ubiqui- 
tous ; they were particularly powerful in Lyons. The con- 
nection between the two countries was close enough for 
King Charles V to hear of a noted Italian physician and 
call him to his court. All ecclesiastics, since the end of 
the Great Schism, had turned their eyes Homeward again. 
Rome and the Santa Casa at Loretto were still the places 
chiefly sought by pilgrims. On the other hand, we note 
with mild surprise the lack of response to the charm 
of Italy among those warriors who were supposed to act 
as "foragers of culture. 55 We have a delightful biog- 
raphy of Bayard, the Knight without Fear or Reproach, 
by a companion of his who signs: The Loyal Servant: 
the dazzling vision of Italy does not seem to have struck 
him in the least. Armies are almost perfect non-conduc- 
tors of culture: such, at any rate, was the experience of 
the present writer in connection with the American Ex- 
peditionary Forces. However, this lack of response is 
noticeable, not merely In soldiers, but even with scholars 
and poets. The discovery of Italy was such a vast, slow, 
collective movement that the share of each individual 
therein was remarkably small. Both Rabelais and Marot 
went to Italy : we find no sign in them of a sudden flame 
of enthusiasm. Even In the works of Bai'f, who was half- 
Italian, a visit to Italy left very little trace. The clear- 
est note struck by du Bellay in Rome was homesickness 
for the gentleness of his native Anjou. We feel tempted 
to believe that, like the Terror of the Year 1000, like 
the discovery of Oriental civilization through the Cru- 
sades, like the diffusion of Greek learning as a result of 
the fall of Constantinople, the "revelation of Italy" in 

52 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

1494 is such an exaggeration that it might almost be 
termed a legend. 

Would it be unduly paradoxical to see in the Italian 
expeditions a sign of Italy's growing fascination for the 
French mind, rather than its origin? "The Genoese, 
Louis XI is reported to have said, give themselves to me ; 
and I give them to the devil. 55 Back of this sally lay a 
healthy tradition. The task of the Capetians, slowly de- 
fined in the course of centuries, was to "make" France by 
giving her her natural frontiers, the mountains and the 
sea. In the North East, where no such physical boun- 
dary existed, their goal was to unite under their scepter 
all populations of French speech, and to protect by as 
wide a zone as possible their capital Paris, so easy of ac- 
cess through the valley of the Oise. A few villages on 
the Somme were of much more vital value to France than 
a city, a duchy or even a kingdom beyond the Alps. This 
great truth Louis XI realized and his successors forgot. 
Why did they thus deviate from their traditional course? 
It was not merely an accident: even Charles VIII could 
hardly have embarked upon such an expedition, if his 
policy had not found support among his counselors. The 
magnet that drew him, and drew Louis XII after him, 
and Francis I after Louis XII, was the magic prestige 
of Italy. It was not until the reign of Henry II that the 
true French tradition was resumed : the conquest of Metz, 
Toul, Verdun, Calais, far outweighed the loss of pre- 
carious holdings in the peninsula. Cultural and politi- 
cal factors are constantly reacting upon one another. Po- 
litical events, being more definite, are the first to be reg- 
istered by history, and thus assume the dignity of 
"causes' 5 ; but the achievements and aspirations of culture 
are the necessary conditions of political activity. The 
words of Pascal, so true in the realm of the soul, can be 
applied in the domain of politics and culture: "You 
would not seek me, if you had not already found me. 55 
Thus it was that France sought Italy in 1494. 

Influence of Antiquity and Italy 53 


Italy was no doubt an incomparable prize. Its evolu- 
tion had been different from that of Northern Europe. 
It had almost skipped the Middle Ages. Gothic archi- 
tecture in its purity is hardly represented in Italy. In 
Dante, the foremost representative of medieval thought, 
the light of antiquity still lingers ; and immediately after 
Dante, we find the spirit of the Renaissance already em- 
bodied in Petrarch. The vestiges of antiquity were of 
course more numerous than in the North : but the great- 
ness of Italy in the Trecento and Quattrocento was not 
enclosed in Roman ruins. There was a living people, 
which, from the crucible of innumerable invasions, had 
come out singularly alert and energetic. There was a 
form of civilization, the City-State, probably the one best 
adapted to the full development of the individual. Whilst 
in Northern France, the nobles lived in the morose isola- 
tion of their castles, in Italy they took part in the throb- 
bing, tragic, exulting life of the cities. The Mediter- 
ranean was still the chief center of trade, and the Italians 
were still supreme as navigators, traders and bankers. 
Tradition, race, institutions and wealth, all contributed 
to the brilliancy of Italian culture. After the great thir- 
teenth century, Italy had forged ahead whilst Prance had 
lost her way. So there was much in French art and 
thought, about 1494, that appeared senile, compared with 
the lusty maturity of the Italians. 

France, however, had too great reserves of power ever 
to become a slavish imitator of Italy: the excesses de- 
nounced by Estienne were freaks. But Italianism was not 
a passing vogue. If, as we believe, it did not create, but 
only coloured, the French Renaissance, at least the dye 
was so deep that it lasted for generations. When the 
Italian wars were over, Italian queens, Catherine and 
Marie de* Medici, prolonged the influence of their nation. 
A Concini could become, nominally, and a Leonora Gali- 
gai actually, a power in the realm. French literature 
long obeyed the dictates of Italian fashions: Arcadian 

54 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

with Sannazaro, It became euphuistic with Marino. Even 
In the period when France recovered her full autonomy 
and began in her turn to assert her supremacy, Italian 
forces were everywhere traceable. Church architecture 
conformed obediently to the models of the Roman Jesuits. 
Richelieu himself was succeeded by an Italian, Mazarin, 
who ruled the Queen and the kingdom. The restoration 
of good manners after the long era of civil and religious 
wars was directed by a woman who was partly Italian by 
birth, and almost wholly in her upbringing, the Marquise 
de Ramboulllet. The French Academy was an imitation, 
more successful than any of its models, of the many 
academies that existed in the Peninsula: the very name 
Academy is a last vestige of Italian Platonism. Even the 
rules of French classical tragedy came, not from Aristotle 
directly, but from Italian theorists. Almost up to our 
own days, the French have found it hard to understand 
Art unless it was presented to them in an Italian form: 
the Louvre is still overstocked with the works of second- 
rate Italian painters, and with their imitations. It Is 
hard therefore to fix a limit in time to such an action. 
Perhaps the voyage of Bernini to Paris In 1665 may be 
considered as marking the beginning of the end, or at 
least the turn of the tide. The great architect and sculp- 
tor, the last giant of Italian art, although a sophisticated 
giant, was commissioned to design a f afade for the new 
Louvre. He was received like a sovereign, sent home 
laden with honours and presents : but his scheme was dis- 
carded in favour of the severer colonnade of Perrault. 
But, in many fields, the influence of Italy was very far 
from spent, even then. Until the first half of the nine- 
teenth century, no person of culture could be ignorant of 
Italian. For Jean-Jacques Rousseau, French music was 
still a joke, and the Italians were supreme. A last evidence 
of this Italian superstition survives in the French School 
of Rome. Not only archeologists, sculptors and architects, 
but painters and even musicians are supposed to need the 
atmosphere of the Eternal City in order to perfect them- 
selves in their art. No other influence to which French 

Influence of Antiquity and Italy 55 

culture was submitted assumed so many forms and proved 
so enduring. That of Spain in the seventeenth century 
was brief and trivial in comparison. Its only rival is the 
Anglomania of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: 
in France, the Enlightenment,, Romanticism and the In- 
dustrial Era borrowed freely and consciously their in- 
spiration from England. 

It is difficult to measure, and more difficult still to ap- 
praise, such a vast and indefinite element as a foreign 
influence. It is potent only if it mingles with the local 
traditions : so it becomes most effective at the very point 
where it loses its identity. The problem in this case is 
made more complicated by the fact that Italianism and 
the worship of antiquity were so inextricably mixed. We 
do not know where Plato ends and Ficino begins, or where 
Aristotle hands over his scepter to Scaliger, Castelvetro 
or Patrizzi. It is therefore the contribution of the Italo- 
Antique Renaissance as a single whole to French civiliza- 
tion that we shall attempt roughly to estimate. 

The dauntless optimism^ the spirit of adventure^ the 
strides in scientific progress, the greater freedom of 
thought, the new manliness of tone, which characterized 
the sixteenth century at its best, and which we summed 
up in the name Pantagruelism, are not ascribable to the 
Italian Renaissance. These traits are most clearly seen 
in men who were very un-Italian in their qualities and in 
their faults : Thomas More, Erasmus, Luther, Ulrich von 
Hxitten, Rabelais. Francis Bacon was the heir of that 
spirit, and transmitted it to the Enlightenment and to 
our own age. 

Two claims are advanced on behalf of the Itaio-Antique 
Renaissance: it favoured the growth of personality, it 
fostered the sense of beauty. This would imply that the 
Middle Ages had been deficient in both respects. It seems 
audacious to assert that individuality was subdued in the 
centuries that produced Hildebrand, St. Bernard, Abe- 

56 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

lard, St. Francis, St. Dominic, Dante, and so many others, 
as clear-cut, as compact with life, as any figures in his- 
tory. Our perspective was at fault; the Middle Ages 5 
long neglected, seemed far-off and vague. Knights, cru- 
saders, monks, merchants, lost their identity, became in- 
terchangeable units in anonymous groups. But is not 
the same process taking place for the worthies of the 
Renaissance? Now that it has in its turn receded into 
the dim past, do not condottieri, courtiers, cardinals, ar- 
tists and grammarians, merge into conventional types? 
The Italian Renaissance, it is true, brought forth a ruth- 
less breed of supermen, of flamboyant egotists, whose 
ideals were Machiavelli's Prince and Castiglione's Cour- 
tier of these Benvenuto Cellini and Cesare Borgia may 
serve as examples. Fortunately that kind of wrtA failed 
to establish itself in France: it was revived only in the 
nineteenth century, as a Romantic ideal. 

It is not certain either that the Renaissance created the 
modern sense of Beauty. No one could assert that the 
builders and decorators of the cathedrals, or the limners 
of miniatures, were indifferent to beauty, even to physical 
beauty, to bodily grace, to luxury, to elegance, to sym- 
metry and dignity of design. The Gothic masters were 
not inspired children, but careful and conscious artists. 
No doubt the Renaissance poets prated abundantly about 
Beauty with a Platonic capital B ; no doubt beauty 
was achieved by them, but a beauty which to us is less 
poignant, less compelling in its mystery, than that of 
their predecessors. The superiority of the Renaissance 
can be accepted only if art be identified with three ele- 
ments : the supremacy of the nude, a certain obvious har- 
mony of composition, and a wealth of classical reminis- 
cences. In all three, the Middle Ages were decidedly 
inferior to the sixteenth century. But we are no longer 
sure that any of the three is absolutely essential. 

What the Renaissance did emphasize was the worship 
of form, form as an ideal in itself, loved and cultivated 
for its own sake. The Middle Ages had been neither 
amorphous nor free from formalism: a ballad is no less 

Influence of Antiquity and Italy 57 

rigid in structure than a sonnet, and late medieval litera- 
ture indulged in veritable acrobatics of versification. 
There is little question, however, that formal beauty be- 
came a cult chiefly through the action of the Italian 
Renaissance. The result was what de Sanctis calls "in- 
difference to contents. 55 "It no longer matters whether 
one has anything to say, but only how it is to be said. 
The man of letters is not expected to have an opinion: 
this is not expected of him. Still less is it expected that 
he should live in conformity with the views which he ex- 
presses. His ideas come from without : his sole duty is to 
give them form. His imagination is a storehouse of 
phrases, maxims, 'beauties'; his ear is filled with har- 
monies and cadences, void of any meaning. Thus were 
born in Italy the men of letters and literary forms. 551 

This "indifference to contents," as Brunetiere pointed 
out, clearly resembles some modern forms of Art for Art's 
Sake. Such a doctrine is bound ultimately to identify 
beauty with certain formulae, and art with a particular 
technique. The notion persisted through the classical 
age. Even Pascal, who had so much to say, and who took 
it so tragically to heart, compared literature with a game 
of tennis : "the players are using the same ball : one places 
it better. 5 * 

The formulae with which the literary mind was filled 
were those of the Italo-Antique Renaissance. Humanism 
and Classicism were narrowed down to a set of Greco- 
Latin myths, stories, canons, rules, and "felicities of ex- 
pression, 5 ' the Elegances of Lorenzo Valla, for instance. 
Boileau, a good rationalist and a good Christian, still 
believed that in poetry he had to be an orthodox Pagan. 
From Life to Art, from Art to Form, from Form to Con- 
vention, the humanistic ideal gradually lost touch with 
reality. And, deliberately, it eschewed contact with the 
people. The Homo sum et humani nihil a me alienum 
puto, was construed to apply only to the small band of 
the initiated. The rest were warned off, debarred from 
understanding high literature: "they will have, instead 

1 F. de Sanctis, Letteratura Italiana, I, p. 288, Morano, Naples, 1913. 

58 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

of a book, only a heavy burden. In their hands." "Noth- 
ing/ 9 Ronsard again declared with sublime arrogance, 
"nothing pleases me, except what displeases the common 
herd." The Greco-Latin tradition became the shibboleth 
of a self-appointed elite. 

We must hasten to say that this pedantic and .snobbish 
element, obvious and freely proclaimed as it was, did not 
constitute the whole of French classicism, nor even its 
essential part. Life and reason reasserted their rights: 
the seventeenth century might do obeisance to the Greco- 
Roman fetish: but it was above all an age of sturdy 
realism and vigorous common sense. 

Even the poets of the Pleiad, the purest representatives 
of "Humanism" in French literature, are not, fortu- 
nately, fully consistent, either in practice or in doctrine. 
Like Chambord, Chenonceaux or St. Etienne-du-Mont, 
they are hybrids. They imitate antiquity and Italy, no 
doubt and the stricter the imitation the more lifeless the 
poem. But they are French noblemen first of all, and not 
ultramontane antiquarians. "Of all things I most detest 
pedantic learning," said du Bellay, who was none the less 
the companion-at-arms of that pedant, "docte, doctieur 
et doctime Bd/if" Du Bellay and Ronsard were not 
wholly indifferent to contents. They were ardently de- 
voted to their country, and especially to theit native 
provinces, Anjou and Vendomois. If some of their lyrics 
are not free from scholarly mustiness, others are eternally 
fragrant, and fresh with dew. Both have a note of sweet 
melancholy at the contemplation of beauty, love and 
death. But Villon had handled before them that eternal 
theme; and the pretty descants of Ronsard on "falling 
rose petals" can hardly match the haunting refrain: 
" Where are the snows of yesteryear?" 

The manifesto of the school, the Defence and Illustra- 
tion of the French Language, by Joachim du Bellay 
(1549), is a very ambiguous piece of writing. It con- 
demns, a little too sweepingly, the old French tradition, 
with the obsolete intricacy of its literary forms. It urges 
the poets to imitate the Ancients and the Italians, or 

Influence of Antiquity and Italy 59 

rather to plunder them : "Ransack again the treasures of 
Rome, as your ancestors did of old (and this time, du 
Bellay quaintly adds, there will be no geese at the Capitol 
to give you away) ; pillage once more the temple at Del- 
phos. 5 * But these lines ring with juvenile arrogance, not 
with superstitious awe and submission. It is the French 
language that Ronsard and du Bellay want to cultivate, 
because it seems to them as noble a vehicle of thought 
and feeling as the classical tongues. Their creed is a 
confused blending of learning and spontaneity, of super- 
stitious classicism and modernism. It is in the works of 
du Bellay, the spokesman of the scholarly school in 
poetry, that we find the most radical denunciation of 
literal classicism: "Pondering oftentimes on the reason 
why the men of this age are as a rule less learned in all 
sciences and of less worth than the Ancients, among many 
causes I find this one which I dare maintain is the prin- 
cipal : the study of the Greek and Latin languages. For, 
if the time we consume in learning these languages were 
devoted to the study of science, Nature has certainly not 
grown so barren, but she would bring forth in our time 
new Platos and new Aristotles." 1 It is the whole doctrine 
of imitation that stands here condemned: and yet that 
doctrine was the central tenet of the Renaissance. The 
seventeenth century was to clarify much of that turbid 
thought. The essential ambiguity, however, was not 
wholly removed. The meaning of humanism kept hover- 
ing between "erudition" and "faith in the human race." 
This blessed ambiguity saved France from a new tyranny 
as narrow as that of decadent scholasticism. The pedan- 
tic, literal conception of Humanism and Classicism pre- 
vailed in name only: it was able to hinder progress, but 
could not wholly arrest it. 

i J. du Bellay, Defence and Illustration, Book I, Chapter X. 



I. The Royal Power. Unquestioned supremacy of royal office 
at the end of middle ages. The last semi-independent provinces: 
Burgundy, Brittany. The last feudal rebel: Constable of Bour- 
bon. Feudal nobles turned into courtiers. Franchises of prov- 
inces and cities devitalized. 

Foundations of Royal Power: ownership, feudal suzerainty, 
Christian consecration, Roman tradition. Caesarian Democracy: 
the absolute King also the first servant of the people. 

II. King and Court. Francis I, the ideal Renaissance King. 
Brilliancy, charm. Alleged shallowness. 

The Court : enormous increase. Migratory : Loire and Parisian 
Regions. Elegance, immorality and extravagance. One of the 
causes of financial chaos. 

III. Government and Administration. Court, Privy Council, 
Grand Council, etc. Ambiguous character of Parliament. 

Growth of an hereditary bureaucracy. 

THE early Capetians, with magnificent claims* pos- 
sessed but very limited powers. Their title was rec- 
ognized, in rather vague theory, from Flanders to 
Barcelona. In sober reality, they were barely "first 
among their peers, 5 ' and Louis VI could be defied by a 
mere Sire of Montlhery between his two royal cities of 
Paris and Orleans. From the accession of Hugh Capet 
in 987 to the death of Louis XII in 1515, the power of 
the kings, through many vicissitudes, had gained sub- 
stance. When Francis I came to the throne, the concep- 
tion of absolute monarchy had fully crystallized. It was 
manifest that France no longer was a loose congeries of 
fiefs : she was a nation, and she had a ruler. 

The King was unquestionably supreme in his realm. 
The last great feudatories disappeared at that time. The 
most threatening had been the Dukes of Burgundy, vas- 
sals more splendid at times than their suzerains, and who 


The Monarchy of the King's Pleasure 61 

had not scrupled at uniting their forces with those of 
England. The last Duke had visions of a renewed Lotha- 
ringia or Austrasia, maintaining its independence be- 
tween France and the Empire. He had held Louis XI a 
prisoner. With the death of Charles the Bold, that dan- 
ger vanished. Brittany, so long an almost sovereign 
state, was personally united with France through the 
marriages of the Duchess, Anne, with two successive 
Kings. One great feudal power remained: in his own 
right and through his wife, Charles of Bourbon, Con- 
stable of France, controlled large domains in the very 
heart of the country. He was quasi-independent, and 
Moulins was a veritable little capital. In Bourbon, the 
double danger which these princely houses created was 
clearly revealed: he could, at any moment, become the 
center of an aristocratic coalition against the crown ; and, 
like the Burgundians, he could, without a qualm, nego- 
tiate directly with the Emperor or with the English. So 
.strong did he seem that Francis I, well aware of his trea- 
sonable intentions, did not dare to have him arrested: the 
King was not yet absolutely sure of the loyalty of his 
nobles. But France as a whole was already more mo- 
narchical than her aristocracy. The Constable's vassals 
refused to follow him against the national sovereign. 
Compelled to flee to the Emperor Charles V, he led an 
army into Provence, hoping that at least a party or fac- 
tion in France would rally to his standards. Again he 
was disappointed. He perished in the siege of Home, a 
mere adventurer on a large scale, a prince without a land, 
a Frenchman without a country, a Catholic excommuni- 
cated by the Pope. Popular imagination took pleasure 
in contrasting his sinister fame with the pure glory of 
Bayard. 1 Yet Bourbon was not so much a criminal as 
an anachronism: he still called "transfer of allegiance" 
what France had learned to call "treason. 55 

We shall see that, nearly half a century later, two great 

l Bayard, at the point of death, rebuking the Constable, is a fa- 
vourite scene in popular imagery. Young Louis XIV erased the name 
of Charles of Bourbon from a genealogical table, and substituted: 

62 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

families, the Bourbons and the Guises (Lorraine) , 
brought France to the verge of ruin. But there was a 
difference : they stood as leaders in factional strife rather 
than as territorial lords ; their object was to control the 
king, but not to disrupt the monarchy ; and their power 
for evil was due, not to their feudal claims, but to ex- 
asperated religious passions. Under Richelieu and again 
at the time of the Fronde, some great nobles rebelled, and 
allied themselves with foreigners. The victory of the 
monarchy was not therefore complete and secure in 1515 ; 
but the unity and indivisibility of the kingdom had al- 
ready become a cardinal principle of national policy. For 
that reason, an Assembly refused to ratify the treaty of 
Madrid: the dynasty and the people were one on this 
point. The principle survived the dynasty: the Revolu- 
tion proclaimed the Republic "one and indivisible." 
Whoever, within or without, threatens that unity, is an 
enemy of the State; and of that unity, the King is the 
living symbol. 

No other element could challenge the absolute suprem- 
acy of the crown. Feudalism, in the sixteenth century, 
was only a survival: its decadence had begun fully two 
hundred years before. The nobility preserved titles, 
privileges, wealth and influence : but its actual power, its 
sovereignty within definite limits, were gone beyond recall. 
Everywhere the King's coinage displaced that of the local 
lords. The administration of justice passed more and 
more into the hands of royal officials. Two factors par- 
ticularly hastened the decline of the feudal class. It was 
an aristocracy of warriors, and in the Middle Ages, a 
Baron in his castle, with a handful of men, could defy 
a king. But artillery had changed the conditions of war- 
fare. The knight's armour, and even the walls of his 
keep, were not proof against cannon balls ; the central 
government alone was rich and well-organized enough to 
take full advantage of the new armament. Gunpowder is 
therefore acknowledged as a great instrument of cen- 
tralization. Then the steady decline in the purchasing 
power of money impoverished the nobility: for the dues 

The Monarchy of the King's Pleasure 63 

they collected from their tenants had been fixed genera- 
tions before, and the invincible attachment of the rural 
population to "ancient custom" made a readjustment im- 
practicable. The nobles would either sink to the position 
of rude country squires, hardly richer, or better educated, 
than the peasants among whom they dwelt; or they had 
to flock to the Court, and live on the King's bounty. 
France was prosperous, the King was open-handed, and 
the nobles became increasingly his dependents. Thus be- 
gan the gilded servitude which, under Louis XIV, was 
reduced to such a perfect system. 

Just as the privileges of the nobility were left un- 
touched in name and form, the franchises of the provinces 
and cities were seldom suppressed outright or even cur- 
tailed: ancient France was no less averse than England 
to any radical measure. But they became gradually mere 
names and forms. There were still in many parts of the 
country "States" or Assemblies; whilst they were not 
wholly' devoid of power, their meetings were chiefly social 
occasions, when the Governor entertained royally the 
nobles of the province. The turbulent communal spirit 
vanished almost entirely. Both in royal towns and in 
chartered cities, municipal honours were reserved to a 
few substantial families, known for their devotion to the 
king. The religious wars interrupted that process: for 
a few troublous years, there were again little municipal 
republics in the realm. But France recoiled from the 
threat of national dissolution, and, in the seventeenth 
century, the independent spirit of the local bourgeoisie 
was hardly even a memory. Gradually, almost imper- 
ceptibly, all Frenchmen of whatever province or degree 
were being turned into obedient subjects, all equal in sub- 
mission before the majesty of the crown. 

That power, materially so great, was rooted in many 
traditions, which made it morally irresistible. Perhaps 
its chief basis was ownership: France was essentially the 
royal domain. It had started with the little duchy be- 
tween Seine and Loire ; it had grown slowly, through con- 
flicts, marriages, heritages ; the Capetians had shown the 

64 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

same instinctive obstinacy which a French peasant dis- 
plays in rounding off his father's farm. The doctrine 
that the king owned France was not based on abstrac- 
tions, but on facts. The king-was the first of proprietors, 
and his hereditary rights were a model and a guarantee 
for all proprietary rights. 

In so far as feudal notions still survived, the king was 
the ultimate suzerain, the apex of the ideal pyramid. He 
was also, and more emphatically, the Lord's anointed, like 
David and the royal line of Israel. The holy chrism used 
at his coronation imparted to him a sacred character. 
His touch cured "the King's Evil." 1 The glamour of 
this mystic origin was strengthened by the long alliance 
between the monarchy and the Church, an alliance which 
had begun with Clovis; by vague memories of Charle- 
magne, whom legend had turned into a Frenchman, a 
crusader and a saint ; by the more substantial prestige of 
St. Louis. 

Finally, the King was also the heir of Rome ; the "le- 
gists," since the reign of Philip the Fair, had identified 
the principle of his rule with the Roman conception of 
the Sovereign and the State: the ruler is the incarnation 
of the state, and his will is law. On all these grounds the 
King's authority was absolute. Already Christine de 
Pisan, under Charles V, called that authority "imperial 
and pontifical." It was a commonplace that the French 
King was "Emperor in his Realm." 2 

This doctrine was practically unchallenged under 
Francis I. La Boetie's Discourse on Voluntary Servi- 
tudes which it is claimed he composed at the age of eigh- 
teen (ca. 1548), was an exercise of juvenile rhetoric 
in the "antique manner, and devoid of genuine signifi- 
cance. Under the stress of the religious wars, the abso- 

1 A kind of scrofula. 

2 The tradition that the French Kings were descended from Fran- 
cus, son of Hector, does not seem to have originated with the humanists 
of the sixteenth century. Naturally enough, it appealed to them, and 
Eonsard, as the laureate of France, made it the theme of his still-born 
epic The Franciad. Although a careful scholar like Henri Hauser men- 
tions it on the same level as the Roman, the feudal and the ecclesiastical 
traditions, we have not found any evidence of its vitality. 

The Monarchy of the King's Pleasure 65 

lute power of the crown was brought into question. 
Francois Hotman, in his Franco-Gattia (1573), tried to 
establish that the French monarchy was a representative 
one, and subject to the authority of the law. Other views 
prevailed. Twentieth century minds were already think- 
ing in the sixteenth century, just as sixteenth century 
minds are still active in the twentieth. But in both cases, 
history is bound to disregard minor currents. 

More vital perhaps than any of these was what we 
might call the democratic, or better the Caesarian, tra- 
dition : the king as leader and servant of the whole people ; 
soldier, lawgiver, dispenser of justice. It was for such 
a king for the idea of such a king that Joan had 
fought and suffered death ; it was this national character 
that had made Charles VII, mediocre and selfish as he 
was, the Well-Served,, just as it was to make Louis XV 
the Well-Beloved. That tradition was Caesarian, not 
constitutional. The germ of representative assemblies, 
akin to the English Parliament, esisted in the States Gen- 
eral: but they never enjoyed a normal growth. Whilst 
the monarchy was in desperate circumstances, through 
foreign invasions, civil wars, threatened bankruptcy, the 
minority of a king, the States were convened. They as- 
serted their power on such occasions with a definiteness 
which, in the light of their ultimate failure, comes as a 
surprise. This was particularly the case in 1484, soon 
after the death of Louis XL The Hundred Years War 
had given the States their best opportunities, and they 
were to have their chance again during the religious wars, 
from 1560 to 1593. This constant association with dis- 
aster made the very name of States General distasteful 
to the monarchy. Invariably, the selfishness of the privi- 
leged orders precluded the possibility of constitutional 
reforms; and the Third Estate realized that they had 
more to gain by supporting the King than in opposing 
him in conjunction with the Clergy and the Nobility. 
Francis I and Louis XIV, the early and the perfected 
types of absolute monarchy, never convened the States at 
all. After a last futile meeting in 1614, that unwieldy 

66 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

and disappointing institution remained in abeyance until 


In the early sixteenth century, all these traditions 
united to give the monarchy incomparable prestige. 
Louis XII, not a great king by any means, had one of the 
finest titles that may be given to a ruler: the Father of 
the People. The country was bursting with eager ac- 
tivity; the French mind had sloughed off the pessimism 
and formalism of medieval decadence. It is at that 
unique moment that Francis I appeared. 


The hereditary principle is a lottery. The distant 
cousin who succeeded Louis XII might have been a sickly 
child, a dullard, a morose old man: fate brought to the 
throne, at that golden hour of the young Renaissance, an 
ideal Renaissance prince. He was twenty years old, vig- 
orous, radiantly handsome, a lover of chivalric valour: 
immediately upon his accession, at Marignano, he gave 
evidence of his prowess. Fond of luxury, even of display, 
he dazzled England and posterity with his Camp of the 
Cloth of Gold. But, in his prodigality, he was a con- 
noisseur: he sought out Leonardo da Vinci and brought 
him over to France. He was a friend of scholars and 
poets, "honoured learned men equally with warriors," in 
the words of an old rhyme in his praise. He showered 
upon them fair words and at times substantial benefits. 
He sided with Bude against Beda, with humanism against 
the obscurantism of the Sorbonne. He was the Prince 
par excellence, the hero, the lover, the protector of arts 
and letters. 

It is difficult to be the spoilt child of fortune without 
becoming spoilt. Francis I is a disappointment: the 
young athlete of 1515 died at fifty-two, a tragically de- 
cayed charmer, gnawed by the Nemesis of his amorous 
pleasures. The knight of Marignano was to be, eleven 
years later, the luckless commander of Pavia and the 
captive of Madrid. The friend of humanism did not pre- 

The Monarchy of the King's Pleasure 67 

vent Louis de Berquin and Etienne Dolet from suffering 
death; Marot, to whom he had shown favour, was exiled; 
even his sister Marguerite was not free from persecution. 
Historians do not agree in gauging his enigmatic per- 
sonality. For Michelet, he is a scatterbrain young noble- 
man who turned into a soured, enfeebled rake ; BainvDle, 
Madelin, are still impressed with the majesty of his bear- 
ing and with the soundness of his national policy. We 
are not called upon to pass judgment upon him : the fact 
that is significant for us, and which can not be denied, is 
that he gave a new luster, and almost a new meaning, to 
the kingly office. He was in many respects a prototype 
of Louis XIV, with less sustained and self-assured per- 
fection, but with the colour, the bravado, the dash of 
Italian virtu, which make the Renaissance so much more 
fascinating than the age of Boileau. 

The Court also assumed new proportions and a new 
tone. All Kings had held court : even Louis XI at Plessis- 
lez-Tours, even Charles VII in his evil days, when he 
was mockingly known as the King of Bourges, had a 
retinue and a ceremonial. A large household, brilliant 
social functions, elaborate etiquette, were part of the state 
in which a great nobleman was expected to live, and the 
King of France could do no less. But, before 1515, there 
was no radical difference between the royal court and that 
of a high feudal lord. With the enhanced prestige of the 
monarchy, a new standard of magnificence seemed to be 
required. The nobles were conscious of the needed 
change, and grumbled at the parsimony of Louis XII. 
"I would rather be laughed at by courtiers for my nig- 
gardliness than cursed by the people for my extrava- 
gance," answered the good king. After his death, a dif- 
ferent ideal prevailed, and Francis I had no such scruples. 
He was fond of pleasure and of admiration; so he sur- 
rounded himself, not with a few kinsmen, grand officers 
and personal servants, but with hundreds of nobles great 
and small. As every one of these nobles had a retinue 
according to his station, the court became a little com- 
monwealth of six and even ten thousand people. 

68 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

To gather, house and entertain such a multitude even 
in one permanent center would have been a costly under- 
taking. But the difficulty was increased by the migratory 
habits of Francis I. Like his predecessors, he loved the 
region of the Loire, the famed "Garden of France": he 
added a wing to Blois and constructed Chambord. He 
must also have a worthy and modern residence in his cap- 
ital, and began rebuilding and enlarging the Louvre. 
But he was not satisfied with these. Fontainebleau was 
his favourite: the mighty hunter loved the great forest. 
It is now a vast, chaotic and not very attractive pile of 
buildings: but the interior decoration, entrusted to il 
Primatice and Rosso well fulfilled his ideal of sensuous 
splendour. Nor was this all: he had also a castle at 
Neuilly, oddly called Madrid, as though he wanted to be 
constantly reminded of his enforced residence in the 
Spanish capital. Madrid, surrounded with open galleries 
and decorated with brilliantly coloured terra cotta, was 
destroyed at the time of the Revolution; St. Germain, on 
the contrary, still another of his major country seats, 
survives on the impressive bluff that dominates the me- 
andering course of the Seine. When a new whim urged 
the King from one castle to another, not only did the 
whole court with its innumerable staff follow, but even the 
furniture and the hangings. Thus the adventurous joy 
of camping was combined with comfort and dazzling 
luxury. These rapid changes may explain why the royal 
residences of the Renaissance impress us as magnificent 
rather than livable : they were mere stations in the eternal 
quest for pleasure. Chambord, a dream palace in its 
sylvan solitude, was nothing but a gigantic hunting 
lodge ; as a permanent residence, it was uninhabitable, and 
its various illustrious owners have found it a white ele- 

The life for which the art of the time nad prepared 
such a gorgeous setting could hardly be expected to be 
ascetic. Very few French Icings have even remotely ap- 
proached the saintliness of Louis IX : Francis I was not 
one of them* He indulged his immense appetite for en- 

The Monarchy of the King's Pleasure 69 

joyment, on a scale which even Italy could barely rival. 
A court whither men are drawn by the lust of ambition 
and pleasure is no favourable ground for the Christian 
virtues ; at any rate, the royal circle of Francis I was free 
from gloomy hypocrisy. He did more than any other 
sovereign to stamp magnificent immorality as the natural 
privilege of the great. Here again, Louis XIV followed 
him, and did so with such majestic assurance that no one 
would call it effrontery. The kings of the classical age 
must enjoy the liberties of their prototype Jupiter. 

In comparison with his resplendent father, Henry II 
was dull and even somber. Among the Valois kings, he 
stands out as relatively moral. He neglected his wife, 
Catherine de* Medici, for another woman; but to that 
woman, Diana of Poictiers, much older than himself, he 
remained abjectly devoted until his death. He placed his 
idol on an altar which all artists adorned in eager rivalry: 
effigies, emblems, ciphers, poems, innumerable mythologi- 
cal allusions, preserve the fame of the great Diana. We 
find it hard to understand the infatuation of Henry II. 
Physically, his divinity seems to have been vigorous rather 
than charming; morally, she was narrow, imperious, 
grasping, and could very easily be cruel. With the sons 
of Henry II, and particularly with Henry III, the court 
became increasingly a place of ill repute. The standards 
of the time are well preserved for us in the writings of 
Bourdeille, better known as Abbot of Brantome a very 
secular Abbot, we must hasten to say. In his Lives of 
Great Captains and Illustrious Ladies, deeds of blood and 
deceit alternate with scandalous anecdotes, and never 
evoke a flicker of indignation. In this limited sphere, the 
Italo-Pagan Renaissance had achieved its object. 

The cost of this continuous festival was naturally stu- 
pendous, and the bourgeois caution of Louis XI and 
Louis XII had to be flung to the wind. The King was 
absolutely reckless, and "the King's pleasure" was law. 
The country, in the first decades of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, was prosperous, the royal domain had vastly in- 
creased, and yet the monarchy was constantly in financial 

70 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

distress. This was usual under the ancient regime: pe- 
riods of good management, when debts were reduced, 
taxes lightened and a surplus accumulated, occurred per- 
haps two or three times in as many centuries, and never 
proved lasting. Chaos was the rule, order the exception. 
The absence of a regular budget, the prodigality of the 
Kings, the never-ending wars, were not alone responsible. 
The classical age did not, in the three centuries of its 
existence, evolve a fiscal system in harmony with its as- 
pirations. Whilst the monarchy was becoming national, 
and assumed responsibilities on a national scale, the feudal 
principles still prevailed in finance. The clergy served 
the State with their prayers, the nobles with their swords, 
and to pay taxes in vile cash, like a commoner, would 
have seemed to them a degradation. A country in which 
nine-tenths of the real property belonged to the privi- 
leged orders and escaped taxation could not have a well 
balanced budget. Naturally matters were worse under 
a king who kept a court of unexampled splendour, and 
who embarked on wars on a continental scale. But, even 
for a good administrator, the task would have been prac- 
tically hopeless. Sound finances were impossible in France 
until the night of August 4th, 1789, which put an end to 
feudal privileges. The shadow of one age was thus pro- 
longed through the whole of the succeeding age; the ab- 
solute monarchy, with its ideal of order and stability, 
struggled through a perpetual crisis; and a situation 
which might well be termed impossible endured, paradox- 
ically, for three centuries. 

The men who handled the king's monies knew a little 
better than he how to take care of their interests. The 
ancient regime presented almost from beginning to end 
the scandalous contrast of an impoverished treasury with 
absurdly wealthy treasurers. Periodically, it was found 
necessary to teach these unfaithful stewards a lesson, 
and make them disgorge. In this also, the reign of Fran- 
cis I is a first sketch of that of Louis XIV. Francis 
executed Semblanyay as Louis was to punish Fouquet. 
In both cases, the sacrificed financier was the representa- 

The Monarchy of the King's Pleasure 71 

tive of a vicious system rather than a criminally dishon- 
est man 5 and the severity of the sentence seemed exces- 
sive. In both cases also,, the victim retained friends, and 
poets notably honoured themselves by their fidelity to a 
fallen power. Clement Marot, in an indignant epigram, 
praised the noble countenance of old Semblan^ay on his 
way to the gallows, and contrasted it with the hangdog 
look of his "infernal judge 55 Maillart; and La Fontaine 
wrote a touching elegy on the downfall of Fouquet. 


In theory, the king ruled alone. In practice, he nat- 
urally had to employ innumerable agents, to delegate his 
power, and to seek advice. Francis I hated the routine 
of business as much as Philip^H of Spain seems to have 
loved it. Louis XIV united traits of both, and knew how 
to balance his duties and his pleasures. But the king 5 s 
authority remained entire : he could be influenced, but not 
openly thwarted. Those who ruled the state under him 
were his personal servants. 

Barely emerging from feudalism, the absolute mon- 
archy was still unorganized. There was no sharp dis- 
tinction between the officers of the king's household, and 
those who administered the kingdom. Court, domain, na- 
tion, were not clearly separated: all belonged to the sov- 
ereign. The Grand Master of the Household, the Grand 
Chamberlain, the Grand Squire, the Constable, the Chan- 
cellor, had at the same time definite court duties, and in- 
definite political powers. According to the King's fa- 
vor, any one of these or even others, a Treasurer, an 
Admiral might become the chief personage in the State. 
Chancellor Duprat, for instance, enjoyed great influ- 
ence ; during the ill-fated expedition that ended at Pavia, 
he governed the country under the regency of the Queen 
Mother, Louise of Savoy, and faced the crisis with great 
skill and determination: but other Chancellors remained 
obscure. Under Henry II, the Constable, Montmorency, 
was supreme. Absolutism in its purity, as represented by 

72 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Francis I, Louis XIV and Napoleon, is not compatible 
with the institution of a prime minister. 

The Court, in feudal days, had a social and an admin- 
istrative meaning: it was the assembly of the king's 
friends, companions and counsellors. The brilliant horde 
that Francis I dragged with him from one end of France 
to the other was of course purely social. Collectively, it 
might create an atmosphere that would influence the king : 
but it had no definite function. The different attribu- 
tions of the primitive Curia Regis had passed to a series 
of Councils, which, however, were loosely organized and 
not strictly specialized. From the political point of view, 
the most important was the Privy Council, composed of 
permanent members, and of noblemen summoned inter- 
mittently by the King, But, although this body was ab- 
solutely in the hand of the sovereign, and had purely ad- 
visory powers, Francis I was afraid that it might acquire 
some degree of independence: important decisions were 
therefore discussed in a small, informal committee of the 
king's most trusted advisers, known as the Council of 

The Grand Council was a supreme Court of Justice, 
and one of the chief instruments of absolutism. For cases 
could be arbitrarily withdrawn from the regular juris- 
diction, and submitted to the Grand Council, which was 
under the immediate influence of the King. This was 
called the right of "royal evocation." 

The Grand Council was an obedient tool: the role of 
the Parliaments was much more ambiguous. The Parlia- 
ment of Paris was by far the most important, and indeed 
the only one which was intimately associated with na- 
tional history. The Parliament was pujely and simply 
a court of justice, without any legislative power. It had 
no authority except as an agent of the crown : the claims 
that it was in some obscure fashion the heir of the Mero- 
vingian assemblies of the people seem purely fanciful. 
But one of its functions was to keep a record of the royal 
edicts and ordinances. In case some new legislation were 
contrary to the fundamental traditions of the monarchy, 

The Monarchy of the King's Pleasure 73 

the Parliament, before recording the new act, had the 
right to call the King's attention upon the difficulty, or, 
as it was termed, to offer a "remonstrance. 5 * This right, 
which like most rights under the ancient regime, had 
never been formally recognized, conferred upon the Par- 
liament a vaguely political character, and a remote re- 
semblance with the function of the Supreme Court of the 
United States in safeguarding and interpreting the Con- 
stitution. In essentials, the Parliament was in agreement 
with the King: it represented the legalistic, unifying, 
national tendency against feudal chaos. In some cases, 
however, it might stand for the monarchy even against 
the king. It was deeply attached, for instance, to the 
liberties of the Gallican Church, and fought bitterly 
against the Concordate of 1516. The great absolutists, 
Francis I and Louis XIV, distrusted the Parliament, and 
curtailed its privileges. Under weak governments, on the 
contrary, under Mazarin, under Louis XV and Louis 
XVI, the Parliament would assert itself with great 
vigour; its defiance repeatedly took the form of a judi- 
ciary strike, paralyzing the most important tribunals in 
the land. Once it went to the extreme of actual rebellion. 
The Parliament, like the States-General, is a melan- 
choly Might-Have-Been. There is something very at- 
tractive about the idea of Tradition formally embodied in 
an assembly of learned judges, appointed for life, 
wealthy, and therefore independent ; devoted to the State 
and to the Church, yet no servile worshippers of the King 
and of the Pope. And there was enough truth in that 
ideal picture to make the figures of a few great Parlia- 
mentarians very impressive indeed : the names of d'Agues- 
seau and Lamoignon are among the most honoured in 
French history. Unfortunately, the Parliament had no 
firm basis for its claims. Its opposition to the monarchy 
was far from enlightened; and it developed, during the 
classical age, all the faults of a narrow caste. The Revo- 
lution extinguished it unceremoniously; Napoleon found 
no place for it in his reconstruction of France; and the 
restored Bourbons had no thought of reviving it. There 

74 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

is hardly any institution that lasted so long, played so 
active a part, and left so little regret. 

The sixteenth century saw, not the inception, but the 
rapid growth, of an hereditary bureaucracy. This curi- 
ous system might be called a new feudalism: here again 
a confusion was established between "property" and "au- 
thority. 55 The practice arose out of the eternal financial 
troubles of the monarchy. The kings, whilst deprecating 
the purchase of an office as strongly as we condemn the 
buying of a senatorial seat, soon winked resignedly at the 
abuse. As they found it profitable, they would create 
new offices for the sole purpose of selling them. Occa- 
sionally, in a fit of capricious righteousness, these bought 
appointments were cancelled, which satisfied justice and 
made it possible to sell them over again. The officials 
who had thus heavily invested in their charge considered 
it as their property and wanted to keep it in their family. 
The principle came to be practically recognized under 
Henry IV, and lasted till the end of the ancient regime. 
The king, source of all bounty, found it convenient to 
give away valuable offices to his friends, in the same fash- 
ion as he distributed ecclesiastical preferments. Hence 
the extraordinary multiplication of the official class. In 
a sense, this enhanced the power and prestige of the mon- 

Why were the practical bourgeois of ancient France so 
eager to pay their good money for the privilege of serv- 
ing the crown? First of all, the investment brought di- 
rect returns : with each function went fees to be collected ; 
and it was admitted that judges should receive from both 
parties certain douceurs (not bribes !) known as "spices" 
(Spices) . But the possession of an office also gave a man 
a new standing in the community. The officials formed 
a new privileged order, a sort of bourgeois nobility, ex- 
empt from the most vexations and most onerous forms of 
taxation. So the sale of offices was really a spendthrift's 
expedient : whilst it brought ready cash to the treasury, 
it dried up future resources. 

The growth of an hereditary official class qualified to 

The Monarchy of the King's Pleasure 75 

a considerable degree the absolutism of the French kings. 
The management of the Kingdom* in its innumerable de- 
tails, was entrusted to a special body of men, almost a 
caste, and that caste developed some of the qualities of 
specialists. The officials had long traditions of service, 
and a sense of professional honour. The danger with 
them was not so much incompetence and arbitrariness as 
formalism and attachment to routine. The proliferation 
of that bureaucracy paralyzed the king himself: finally, 
it stifled the monarchy. There was enough intelligence 
in the eighteenth century to recognize the need of re- 
forms, and energy enough to undertake them. But the 
mass of privileged persons was too compact: in addition 
to the clergy and the nobility, survivors of the feudal 
regime, there were the Parliaments to be taken into ac- 
count, and the innumerable office-holders created by the 
Kings themselves. Against their serried ranks, Maupeou, 
Turgot, Necker, were powerless. A revolution was needed 
to cure the evil. 

In principle, an autocracy, founded on actual power, 
hallowed by the Church, identified with Law, in harmony 
with the aspirations of the people ; in practice, a series of 
kings, of whom one only, Henry IV, was well above medi- 
ocrity, whilst several were profoundly despicable ; a Court 
of dazzling brilliancy, abysmal extravagance and loose 
morality; a central government slowly taking shape, but 
never completely extricating itself from chaos ; a ubiqui- 
tous bureaucracy, more attached to its own privileges than 
to the service of the country : such was the political regime 
of the classical age. Thus it appeared immediately upon 
the accession of Francis I ; under Louis XIV, it was ra- 
tionalized, made more efficient, and more magnificent still, 
but not essentially altered; and it survived, incapable of 
radical change, until the reign of Louis XVI. Are we 
taking too gloomy a view of the ancient regime? We are 
not blind to its elements of picturesque grandeur; espe- 
cially do we believe that political forms, whilst not indif- 

76 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

ferent, are not the most reliable standards by which a 
civilization may be appraised. At any rate, the Mon- 
archy of the King's Pleasure was prevented by its inner 
contradictions from becoming consistently and irresisti- 
bly oppressive: it had the saving grace of absurdity. 
Perhaps we ought to be thankful if historians, four hun- 
dred years hence ? have as good a word to say for our 




I. The Economic Renaissance: real, but not a revolution. 

II. Local Economy: agriculture and essential industries: the 
economic unit is the pays (small district). A few larger, more 
highly organized industries: metallurgy, textile, printing. 

III. Persistence of Medieval System. Guilds and corpora- 
tions. Monopolistic tendencies. Hereditary class of masters. 
Brotherhoods and "Compagnonnages." 

IV. Influence of Monarchy: arbiter between masters and 
men, producers and consumers. Creation of new masters by 
letters royal. Monarchy sides with the masters against the men. 

V. Economic Periods in the sixteenth century: (a) up to 
1525, prosperity; (b) 1525-1560, difficulties; (cj 1560-1593, 
Religious Wars, ruin. 

VI. Currency and Prices. Rising prices, even before flow of 
precious metals from America. Influence of this factor on feudal 
nobility and on peasants. Working people: real wages prob- 
ably not increasing. 

THE Renaissance is one. Inventions, discoveries, the 
progress of national organization, Humanism, did 
not occur about the same time through a mere co- 
incidence; neither was one actually caused by any of the 
others. All are manifestations of the same spirit: a re- 
vival of confidence and activity in every field. It was 
natural therefore that there should be also an economic 
Renaissance at the beginning of the sixteenth century. 

This Renaissance was very real, and it was the essential 
background of all the rest. Art and even scholarship are 
luxuries. A famished country can not produce Panta- 
gruel, Chambord or the Thesaurus Lingua Latina. 
Without making a fetish of the "materialistic interpreta- 
tion of history," we may note that great cultures have 
seldom, if ever, lacked the basis of economic prosperity. 


78 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Prosperity, however. Is no guarantee that the highest cul- 
ture will thrive. 

The other aspects of the Renaissance, as we have seen, 
Implied no sudden discovery and no radical change ; they 
marked the resumption and acceleration of a progress 
which had grown slack, but which had never ceased alto- 
gether. Classical antiquity, Italy, the personality of 
Francis I, coloured but did not create the French Renais- 
sance. Definite events and dates 1458, 1494, 1515 
are not points of departure: they help us plot the curve, 
but the curve is continuous. 

The same considerations apply in the economic realm, 
We might be tempted to ascribe the commercial Renais- 
sance to a single, dramatic factor : the discovery of Amer- 
ica, and the vast influx of precious metals from the mines 
of the new world. Here again, it seems that the "catas- 
trophic" theory Is misleading. The revival of prosperity 
had begun very definitely before the discovery of America. 
The profound changes due to the increased amount of 
money in circulation did not take place until the French 
Renaissance had reached its climax. The methods of pro- 
duction, the organization of commerce and labour that 
had prevailed during the last centuries of the middle 
ages survived, practically unaltered and almost unchal- 
lenged, until the reign of Louis XVI. 

In culture, there was at least the illusion of change, 
which impressed the contemporaries. In government, the 
change was real, although it was not fully conscious : the 
balance had definitely shifted in favour of the monarchi- 
cal principle, whilst the forms of feudalism lingered in- 
terminably. In the economic world, there was no essential 
change at all, either fancied or real, conscious or uncon- 
scious. Minor transformations were inevitable In the 
course of three hundred years : but they could not bear 
comparison with the "industrial revolution," which re- 
fashioned England, and then continental Europe, from 
the middle decades of the eighteenth century to the middle 
decades of the nineteenth. 

Economic and Social Conditions 79 


France was still almost exclusively an agricultural 
country. Hardly any one, except perhaps, Jean Bodin, 
thought of a world-economy an idea still alien to many 
minds in our own days. Very few more had a clear con- 
ception even of a national economy: this was reserved for 
the seventeenth century, and particularly for Colbert. 
The range of the economic system was not even regional 
or provincial: it was strictly local, and its unit was the 
Pays. The pays is a small natural and historical dis- 
trict, usually with no official boundaries, but with definite 
common interests and traditions. Morvan, Caux, Brie, 
Thierache, Goelle, Vexin, Valois, Vermandois, we could 
name at random scores of them, and there are literally 
hundreds. Modern geographers, like Vidal de la Blache, 
have paid great attention to these little worlds almost 
sufficient unto themselves, and often marked off by very 
noticeable differences in climate, production, architecture, 
dialect, the type and temper of their inhabitants. It was 
high time they should thus be thoroughly studied, for 
they are disappearing fast. Political centralization, 
roads and railways, industry on a large scale, world com- 
merce, have made them obsolete. The capital of such a 
pays, the country town, the equivalent of our county 
seat, with its weekly market, its fairs a fewjtimes a year, 
its half-dozen shops and its three or four primitive indus- 
tries, may appeal to us for its quaint and melancholy 
charm, but it is doomed. At best, it can only vegetate ; 
and it is a question whether many of those that were de- 
stroyed during the Great War can ever truly live again. 

In the sixteenth century, most of the produce that was 
not consumed on the farm never went farther than the 
nearest country town. The roads were much safer from 
brigandage than they had been in the Dark Ages or in 
the early Middle Ages : but they were none too safe, and 
far from comfortable. The era of great road building, 
the pride of the old monarchy, was to begin a little later. 
The rivers were obstructed with mills, dams, chains, nets. 

80 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

and especially with innumerable tolls. The Loire, for in- 
stance, the chief highway in what was at the time the 
leading region in France, was made almost impassable 
with vexatious obstacles. The kings issued edicts after 
edicts, abolishing the toUs and ordering the removal of 
obstructions: but as soon as the attention of the central 
power was diverted, the same abuses sprang up again. 
Custom barriers, high and capricious, separated almost 
every province from its neighbours. The great fairs of 
Champagne had been ruined by the Hundred Years War. 
It was safer to trade at home. 

As the population, thinned by over a century of war- 
fare and by the Black Death, was not excessive; as the 
soil was of good average fertility; as disastrous ex- 
tremes of heat or cold, drouth or rain, are rare in France, 
the country lived safely and prosperously enough on that 
purely local basis. This gave ancient France her mar- 
velous power of recuperation after national catastrophes, 
a power which she has not completely lost. An economic 
life based upon world trade is much richer, but much more 
sensitive, than one based on innumerable independent 

cells. 1 

Only a few places had a broader outlook. Beauce, for 
instance, had specialized in grain, and exported it, not to 
its capital Chartres only, but as far as Paris fully fifty 
miles away. Seaports naturally had still larger connec- 
tions : Bordeaux sent her wines far and wide, particularly 
to England. But these were exceptions. 

Few industries had gone beyond the stage of the home 
craft. Metallurgy, naturally, required greater special- 
ization and concentration. But even in this case, nothing 

persistence of a local economy can be measured by the fact 
that, within the author's memory, the thin and sourish wines of Argen- 
teuil and Suresnes still had a market in Paris. Thirty years ago, there 
were market gardens within the walls of the Capital; much of the sup- 
plies of the Halles Centrales was brought by horse-carts from farms 
within a twenty-mile radius. London was already drawing upon New 
Zealand, Canada, Argentina, the West Indies, China and Siberia for 
its breakfast table. The extreme conservatism of the French in eco- 
nomic matters is partly explained by this unbroken tradition of local 

Economic and Social Conditions 81 

even remotely approaching the modern scale of produc- 
tion could be dreamt of. Pockets of iron ore were widely 
distributed in France; the crude Catalan method was 
use< l furnaces do not seem to have been introduced until 
the latter half of the century; and the only fuel in com- 
mon use, wood, was ubiquitous. As the king owned a 
large share of the forests, he was indirectly a partner in 
all iron manufacture. 

The royal cannon foundries, the largest and most elab- 
orate of all metallurgical establishments, were among the 
very few industries truly national in scope. The others 
were of recent introduction, and not based on the local 
tradition: for example, silk weaving and printing. Louis 
XI had induced Italian silk-weavers to settle in Lyons, 
and a flourishing branch of the trade was established at 
Tours. In this case, the method, and at first the raw 
material, came from abroad ; the merchants, for a market, 
had to look to the aristocracy throughout the land, and 
even beyond the national boundaries; the local economy 
was left behind. The concentration of many looms in 
certain cities, which had already taken place in Flanders, 
could hardly be said to constitute industry on the large 
scale ; for there was very little division of labour, and the 
weavers worked, not in large factories, but in their own 
houses. It is only recently that this primitive method has 
been superseded in Lyons. 

Printing was such a new-fangled, expensive and com- 
plicated business, that it was long concentrated in large 
cities, particularly in Lyons and Paris. Francis I fa- 
voured it: but evidently he had not gauged its full power, 
for, in a moment of reactionary panic, he was tempted to 
decree its suppression. In these new trades, and in the 
two great cities, we find the adumbration of the present 
industrial regime. The long strikes of the printers in 
Lyons (1539-41-44), are already curiously modern ID 

82 The Life and Death of an Ideal 


With these few qualifications, it may be said that the 
medieval system still prevailed in commerce and industry. 
Whenever we touch upon medieval history or upon the 
history of the classical age the word system is likely to 
be misleading. The economic system, like feudalism it- 
self, or medieval Christianity, was a mass of traditions, 
revealing certain tendencies, but full of gaps, flaws, con- 
flicts and absurdities. The distinction between appren- 
tice, journeyman or companion, and master, was pretty 
general. But the organization into guilds or "corpora- 
tions" did not prevail in all cities, nor in all the trades 
of the same city. Lyons, for example, was freer in this 
respect than Paris. Even in Paris, the organized crafts- 
men had to fight constantly against the competition of 
isolated workers. Home industry and village industry 
could not very well be bound by the rigid rule of the 
"corporation. 5 * 

The guild system is extremely attractive in theory; 
and, if it could be purged from its medieval faults, it 
might well be an ideal for our own days. But, in the 
sixteenth century, it had already lost its vital power. 
Instead of protecting the public against poor work, and 
the masters against unfair or wasteful competition, the 
guild had developed thoroughly selfish and monopolistic 
tendencies. These were manifested chiefly in two ways: 
the attempt to create a closed, hereditary aristocracy of 
masters, debarring the journeymen from legitimate ad- 
vancement; and the endless, costly, frequently absurd and 
ludicrous conflicts between rival organizations. 

The notion of privilege was firmly anchored in the me- 
dieval mind. Whilst feudalism was losing ground in the 
political world, something akin to the feudal spirit was 
at work among officials and among craftsmen. They also 
wanted to turn an opportunity for service into a proprie- 
tary right, and to transmit that right to their descen- 
dants. In theory, the craft system was democratic: any 
companion could become a master, "provided he knew the 

Economic and Social Conditions 83 

trade and had the wherewithal," s'U salt le metier et s'il 
a de quoi. In practice, the number of masters' patents 
was limited, and the dice were loaded in favour of the 
masters 5 sons. The aspirant had to present a "master- 
piece" as evidence of his proficiency : no one could reason- 
ably object to this requirement, of which our Doctor's 
Dissertation is a survival. But the masterpiece was used 
as an instrument of discrimination. The jurymen would 
require of a companion a very elaborate and costly piece 
of work a coffer with silver hardware, in a case which 
has come to our knowledge. Even if the candidate re- 
tained possession of his masterpiece, he often found that 
it was purposely so useless that it could not be marketed, 
and the cost of producing it was a dead loss. In addi- 
tion, the banquets to the examining masters, as prescribed 
by custom, were made absurdly expensive. The masters* 
sons, on the contrary, were allowed to present a much 
simpler masterpiece, or even were excused altogether. 
The companions repeatedly protested against such injus- 
tice; they had resort to the Courts; they even appealed 
to the King. But on the whole, they made no headway. 

This creation of a privileged class among the artisans 
has found modern apologists. They have conjured up 
the vision of an ideal world, in which, instead of abstract, 
dangerous and delusive "Rights of Man," each individual 
had concrete, definite, hereditary rights which were his 
lawful possession. Among such an aristocracy of labour, 
we would expect the stability and the professional ex- 
cellence that go with long tradition, and also a sense of 
Noblesse Oblige. Every man then knew his station, with 
all the privileges thereunto appertaining ; a master crafts- 
man was as secure in his position as the king or the baron 
in their respective spheres. Such a regime would be per- 
fect indeed, but for two objections. The first is that all 
aristocracies tend to insist much more strongly upon their 
privileges than upon the duties which created and justi- 
fied these privileges. The second is that the basis of the 
system was exceedingly narrow. If we put together the 
clergy, the nobility, the officials, and the quasi-hereditary 

84 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

masters, we find only a minority of persons with a guar- 
anteed status: all the rest of the population remained 
deprived of rights, either abstract or concrete. The fact 
that the benefits of privilege extended far beyond the two 
higher orders explains the long stability of the ancient 
regime. The clergy and the nobility would have scorned 
to recognize the kinship between their own principles, 
and those of the guild masters: yet there was a secret 
solidarity between them. Wide apart as they seemed, 
they were to stand and fall together. The abolition of the 
"corporations" was effected by the Revolution at the same 
time as the abolition of feudalism. 

It is the very nature of privilege to be jealous and 
punctilious. So we find in the world of commerce and 
industry the equivalent of those long quarrels for prece- 
dence and points of etiquette that loomed so large in the 
eyes of the Duke and Peer Saint Simon. The corpora- 
tions were contentious and quick to resent any infringe- 
ment of their customary rights. There was an epic battle 
between the shoemakers and the cobblers. The cobblers 
could only mend old shoes, not make new ones. But the 
problem was: When is a new shoe technically an old shoe? 
And the cobblers secured the right of manufacturing 
practically new shoes, provided they used inside a piece 
of old leather. There was another Homeric fight between 
the oyers-rotisseurs, or dealers in roast goose, and the 
poulaillers, or poulterers. The goosemen were wrong, for 
they were selling chicken as well as roast goose ; but the 
poulaillers were not right, for they were only privileged 
to sell their fowl raw, and not cooked. The rotisseurs 
won the day: but then they had to face the formidable 
hostility of the licensed cooks. And so ad infinitum: such 
lawsuits were transmitted from generation to generation, 
among the precious traditions of the craft. Corporations 
had their "hereditary foes" and their wars of revenge 
right up to the end of the ancient regime. In the course 
of time, they elaborated regulations and drew up dis- 
tinctions which, for their minuteness and subtlety, would 
have done credit to a scholastic theologian. 

Economic and Social Conditions 85 

The masters, who were deriving full benefit from as- 
sociation, were mortally afraid lest the companions should 
take advantage of the same method. The corporation, 
although it included the three degrees, masters, men and 
apprentices, was ruled entirely by the masters. The Con- 
frerie or Brotherhood might be more democratic. The 
Conf rerie was at times clearly distinct from the Corpora- 
tion, at times almost identified with it. Essentially, it 
represented the religious and social side of tke profes- 
sional association; and, as members of the same trade 
usually lived in the same vicinity, it was a sort of neigh- 
bourhood league as well. It was placed under the pat- 
ronage of some saint, whose festival was celebrated with 
procession and mass; frequently it built, or at least 
adorned, a special chapel in the parish church. In spite 
of its unimpeachable purpose, the brotherhood was sus- 
pected by the masters, and denounced by the clergy. It 
seems that banqueting had usurped an excessive share in 
its activities, and that religion served as a pretext for 
orgies. Repeatedly, in 1498, in 1533, and again by the 
great Ordinance of Villers-Cotterets in 1539, the brother- 
hoods were abolished. But it was not in the nature of 
absolutism to be obeyed, or even to be consistent : as early 
as 1541, the Drapers had been allowed to restore their 
brotherhood, and many others followed. 

If a mixed association like the Brotherhood, under the 
control of the masters, incurred their suspicion, a fortiori 
a union entirely among journeymen, and a secret one to 
boot, would be severely under the ban. These unions, 
however, did exist. They were created for the special 
benefit of the itinerant workman, the companion on his 
"tour of France." They had their conventional names, 
their mysterious rites, their charities, their rough code of 
justice. They had their feuds also, for there were rival 
orders among them. They were called Compagnonnages. 
The compagnonnages made concerted action among jour- 
neymen possible, and in consequence were constantly per- 
secuted. Still, x hey managed to survive the ancient re- 
gime and the corporations, and did not disappear until 

86 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

the industrial revolution had brought with it a new type 
of unions. At the end of the nineteenth century, the 
present writer could still find some traces at least of their 
quaint vocabulary among Parisian working men. 

If we have exposed without indulgence the evils of the 
corporative system, it is not that we are blind to the fine 
qualities of the old craftsmen. The long apprenticeship, 
the slow promotion, the elaborate masterpiece, the rigid 
and minute regulations, the invincible aversion to change, 
did not, as might be feared, lead to total stagnation, but 
to stability and thoroughness. Not only pieces of furni- 
ture, jewelry, plate, brass and pewter ware, but even ar- 
ticles of clothing were made to last for generations. They 
were created and they were handled with the loving rev- 
erence which is due to heirlooms. Such possessions are 
not mere belongings of the family: they are part of the 
family, and their accession ought to be entered at the 
proper date in the family register. The result has been, 
even in modest homes, a slow accumulation of honest and 
beautiful things. A hundred years of democracy, and of 
cheap, machine-made luxury, have not fully ruined these 
treasures of old France. To this day, there are interiors 
in the provinces which the richest collectors could hardly 
match in their mellowed unity : for theirs is not the arti- 
ficial unity of a single "period," fit for parvenus only: it 
is the unity of organic growth. This is the redeeming 
aspect of a world based upon privilege and tradition. 


The Kings did not attempt radically to alter the cor- 
porative system : at least not until the second half of the 
eighteenth century. But they sought to permeate it with 
their influence. They were the supreme arbiters among 
their subjects between public and corporations, between 
rival corporations, between masters and men. This gave 
them constant opportunities for intervention ; each inter- 
vention meant an increase in the authority of the crown, 
and usually also it implied an additional tax for the royal 

Economic and Social Conditions 87 

treasury. For instance, in 1581, very reasonable regula- 
tions were issued, doing away with the scandalous abuses 
of the banquets which the new masters had to provide on 
their initiation : but, in compensation, the masters had to 
be sworn in before a royal official, and for this service a 
fee was charged. In spite of all regulations, the ban- 
queting evil was not fully abated but the royal dues con- 
tinued to be collected all the same. 

In the middle ages, the corporations were connected 
with the feudal regime: it was the local lord (or the com- 
mune as the collective equivalent of a feudal lord) who 
fixed the number of masters and issued patents to them. 
Gradually, this privilege passed into the hands of the 
King. The corporation, on the basis of their ancient stat- 
utes, enjoyed a large amount of autonomy. But the 
King had the right of creating new masters at will, by 
royal letters, and these masters were exempt from the 
usual obligations of masterpiece, banquet and examina- 
tion dues. This royal prerogative was naturally resented 
and resisted by the corporations : had it been used indis- 
criminately, it would have ruined the whole system. This 
the kings were not prepared to do. So the direct crea- 
tion of masters had the effect of qualifying the traditional 
regime without superseding it. In a sense, it acted as a 
useful check on the narrow policy of the corporations 
which, left to their own devices, would have created an 
eternal monopoly in favour of a few families. But in 
many cases, the kings were guided, in this domain also, 
by their ever-recurring need for new resources. The new 
creations were seldom gratuitous: the King or the fa- 
vourite to whom he delegated his power pocketed the 
fees. Thus, eight years after the marriage of his sister 
Marguerite with the King of Navarre (1572-1580), 
Henry III decided to celebrate the joyful event by em- 
powering her to create two new masters of each craft in 
all the cities that she had entered, or might enter in the 
future. It was a handsome brotherly gift, which cost the 
royal donor nothing at all. 

This prerogative enabled the crown to favour the es- 

88 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

tablishment of new trades, or to foster new processes in 
old trades. There is no doubt that, if the existing cor- 
porations had been listened to, they would have con- 
demned every innovation as "contrary to good custom, 
and destructive of vested interests." It was thanks to 
the kings that the silk industry was introduced, and that 
glassware, mirrors, ceramics, could be perfected. Ber- 
nard Palissy, the heroic artisan, artist, scientist, writer 
and religious martyr, who discovered after a stubborn 
fight new methods of enameling earthenware, received a 
patent as "inventor of the rustic figuliness of the King 
and of the Constable," The intervention of the mon- 
archy, on the whole, was an element of progress. 

In the constant conflict between masters and men, the 
Kings, as a rule, placed their authority at the service of 
the masters. It is a tradition which even republican gov- 
ernments have not quite outlived: those in authority must 
stand together. The French monarchy never was truly 
democratic in its sympathies : it was at best "mesocratic," 
devoted to the interests of the middle class. So the crown 
agreed with the masters in condemning and punishing 
strikes and in attempting to suppress brotherhoods and 
compagnonnages. When several causes, particularly the 
influx of precious metals, brought about a sharp increase 
in the cost of living, the kings adopted the view that the 
trouble was due to the unreasonable pretensions of the 
working men; and, in a rising market, they strove to keep 
the wages down. 


On the whole, the economic system of the sixteenth cen- 
tury is not in any sense modern, and can not even be 
called transitional: it is purely medieval. The great in- 
crease in activity was the result, not of a revolution, but 
of recuperation. It began immediately upon the close of, 
the Hundred Years War. It was definitely noticeable 
under Louis XI, that is to say, before the discovery of 
America or the Italian expeditions. It was actually at 

Economic and Social Conditions 89 

Its height under Louis XII. Claude de Seyssel 5 a con- 
temporary,, is too much of a panegyrist to be taken liter- 
ally : still, his glowing description of abundance and lux- 
ury under the good king, "Father of the People," is 
confirmed by many other sources, French and foreign s 
and particularly by Commynes ? a shrewd man, and dis- 
enchanted. 1 Certain it is that Louis XII managed to 
reduce the chief tax, or taille: such a measure is a fairly 
sure sign of well-being, for tax reduction is least possible 
when it is most needed, i. e. 9 in times of distress. This 
brilliant prosperity continued under Francis I; the per- 
sonal magnificence of the king and his court made it even 
more evident. The Camp of the Cloth of Gold (1520) 
has remained the symbol of that period of dazzling pro- 
fusion. These good times, of course, were not the mo- 
nopoly of France: they were even more striking in the 
Netherlands and in the Hansa Towns. Unfortunately, 
they were not to last. 

We may consider the disaster of Pavia (1525) as the 
beginning of a more difficult period. The boundless ex- 
travagance of the court, and the gigantic, interminable, 
confused struggle with Charles V, drained the resources 
of France at least as fast as they were produced. The 
country stood the crisis of 1525 surprisingly well, and it 
was attended by no economic catastrophe. But, from 
1525 to 1560, it may be said that France barely managed 
to hold her own. The French were rather slow in real- 
izing that the "good days" were over. Each difficulty 
seemed exceptional: the store of optimism accumulated 
during the previous quarter of a century was not sud- 
denly exhausted. However, disenchantment was slowly 
growing : it is significant that Francis I, with all his au- 
thority and prestige, was abundantly lampooned and 

The third period in the century, from 1560 to 1593, is 
filled with the religious wars. Aimless, chaotic, ubiqui- 

1 This comparison between the reigns of Louis XI and Louis XII, by 
Claude de Seyssel, oddly resembles, at times, a report from an Ameri- 
can Boosters' Club. 

90 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

tons warfare is far more destructive than great national 
campaigns : France, harried by bands of Huguenots and 
Leaguers, supported by Germans and Spaniards, was 
almost as thoroughly devastated as she had been during 
the Hundred Years War. The court of the last Valois 
was still displaying the most extravagant luxury: but it 
was like the rouge that grim old Montluc put on his 
cheeks to conceal the ravages of disease. Even in 1610, 
after the very fine efforts of Henry IV and of Sully, 
France had not fully recovered the prosperity that had 
been hers a hundred years before. 


We have reserved until the end the puzzling problem 
of money and prices. The controversies and confusion of 
ideas in Europe to-day might easily lead us to doubt the 
infallibility of experts in such matters; and it is hardly 
surprising that we should come to no very definite and 
convincing conclusion about the situation nearly four 
hundred years ago. 

It seems quite clear that there was a sharp rise in 
prices, or, in other terms, a marked decline in the pur- 
chasing power of money; many contemporaries mention 
it, and unanimously complain about it. It is no less clear 
that hardly any one ascribed this phenomenon to what 
appears to us its obvious cause, namely the increased sup- 
ply of gold and silver from the new world. Here again, 
Jean Bodin was clearer of sight than his generation. 
During the middle ages, the hoard of gold in Europe had 
increased very little ; and, as much of it was immobilized 
in jewelry and in Church ornaments, the stock available 
for currency might well have been actually declining. 
Changes in price in that period were therefore not due to 
the amount of money in circulation, but to general pros- 
perity or distress, and especially to the abundance or 
scarcity of labour. Under Louis XII, the population was 
increasing ; the standard of living was rising even faster, 
and so prices were already mounting. 

Economic and Social Conditions 91 

The mines of Mexico and Peru upset the fairly stable 
equilibrium of the money market. But America was not 
discovered until 1492; the first quarter of a century of 
the conquest was a period of preparation : it was not until 
1520 that the new factor could be seriously felt. The 
silver mines of Potosi, which made Peru a by-word for 
fabulous wealth, were not discovered until 1545. It must 
be remembered also that the war between France and 
Spain, preventing a free flow of bullion between the two 
countries, retarded in France the effect of the American 
stream of precious metals. That obstacle was not fully 
lifted until 1559, when the peace of Cateau-Cambresis 
was signed. This is enough to show that the true eco- 
nomic Renaissance, which took place chiefly between 1475 
and 1525, was very little affected either by the American 
trade or by the increased quantity of gold and silver. 

How did the mounting cost of living affect the com- 
munity? It naturally hit hardest the classes with fixed 
resources expressed in units of money. The feudal no- 
bility was dealt a severe blow: hence the impoverishment 
of the country noble, and the flocking of so many aristo- 
crats to the court, where bounties, pensions, pffices and 
other benefits were to be had. Many noblemen gladly sold 
portions of their estates to bourgeois, who, holding noble 
land, became gentlemen in their turn. The old fighting 
caste was thus disintegrated and diluted. Although real 
property remained in popular opinion the only substan- 
tial form of wealth, personal property assumed an im- 
portance that it did not possess in the Middle Ages. 

Another result ought to have been an improvement in 
the condition of the peasants, who, as a rule, were no 
longer serfs. But, if the feudal burden had grown some- 
what lighter, the load of royal taxation was increasing in 
proportion. However, these taxes were very easily col- 
lected during the first quarter of the century, which 
argues a fair degree of prosperity in the countryside. 
We need not mention again the disastrous effect of the 
religious wars : the peasants suffered even more than the 
inhabitants of walled cities. 

92 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

When we come to the town population, we are non- 
plussed. D'Avend, Levasseur and others have attempted 
to figure the value of real wages in the sixteenth century, 
in terms of the necessities of life, and in particular in 
terms of the cost of wheat. Their figures were bound to 
be approximations only, and they present many discrep- 
ancies in detail. They agree, however, in their general 
trend. Whilst nominal wages were soaring, to the great 
indignation of the masters, real wages were declining, to 
the sore distress of the workers. A journeyman was not 
so well off in the second half of the century as he had 
been in the first. However, the cost of prime necessities 
is not the sole test, except for those elements in the popu- 
lation who live close to the starvation line. We should 
have to examine whether there had been any shift 'within 
the budget of a workingman's family, and whether the 
comparative cost of semi-luxuries had increased or de- 
creased. And especially, we should have to take psycho- 
logical factors into consideration, and to ascertain whether 
one class felt itself better off or worse than before, in 
comparison with the other classes. The answer to these 
complex questions would be very uncertain even in the 
study of present-day conditions. When we deal with the 
Renaissance period, the difficulty is vastly greater. The 
splendour of court life, art and literature, the colourful 
pageantry of great wars, the sombre and intense drama 
of religious strife, have obscured for us the economic life 
of the sixteenth century. 



I. Failure of Protestantism in France: not due to "the Latin 
mind." Four alternatives, not two. 

II. Gallicanism: Definition, origins. Strongly supported by 
Parliament. The Pragmatic Sanction of 1438 and the Concordat 
of 1516. The Church increasingly in the hand of the king. 

III. Pre-Re formation and Semi-Protestantism: (a) the Hu- 
manists, Erasmus, Rabelais; (b) the group of Lefevre of Etaples 
and Marguerite of Navarre. 

IV. Protestantism. Luther. Calvin. The Reformation com- 
pared with the two aspects of Humanism. The starting point 
moral rather than theological. Stoic pride and fortitude of the 

V. Religious Wars. Factional rather than religious: Guises 
vs. Bourbon-Conde-Navarre. Vacillating policy of the Valois. 
"Political" bourgeoisie rallies to Henry IV. Compromises of 
1593 and 1598. 

Philosophical result of the crisis: Montaigne's scepticism. 
Political result: yearning for order and unity. 

THE movement for religious reform filled the whole 
sixteenth century. In France, it was apparently 
defeated: the abjuration of Henry IV in 1593 and 
the Edict of Nantes in 1598 were the official acknowledg- 
ment of this failure. The Huguenot king was compelled 
to recognize that the overwhelming majority of his sub- 
jects had remained attached to Catholicism; and the very 
privileges which he granted to the Protestants empha- 
sized the fact that the Reformers had to be protected 
through a kind of extra-territoriality, as though they 
were in France a foreign minority. 

For this failure, a fact which we may deplore but 
which we cannot deny, many explanations have been of- 
fered. Protestantism, it is said, is essentially a Northern 
movement; Catholicism is more congenial to the "Latin 


94 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

mind." It is true that the "Latin" countries, Italy, 
Spain and France, have remained almost purely Catholic, 
whilst Northern Germany, Scandinavia and Great Britain 
turned Protestant. But the "Latin mind" is a myth, 
The identification of a Church with a particular race, 
while it is objectionable from the religious point of view, 
is extremely doubtful as a scientific fact. Calvin was a 
very typical Frenchman, and so were Coligny, Henry 
Estienne, Bernard Palissy, d'Aubigne, Sully. One of the 
most active centers of French Protestantism was and 
remains the South, covered with Roman ruins, preserv- 
ing the physical type of the ancient Romans more purely 
than the Italians themselves, and keeping up through the 
Middle Ages the tradition of Roman law. The Scots and 
the Welsh are supposed to be "Celts" no less than the 
Irish and the Bretons: yet the former two are as de- 
termined in their Protestantism as the latter in their 
Catholicism. The population of Belgian Flanders is not 
different in race and speech from that of Holland : yet the 
Belgian Flemings are ardently Catholic, the Dutch in 
majority Protestant. The Southern and Western Ger- 
mans (Austria, Bavaria, the Rhineland) have, on the 
whole, remained faithful to Rome: the other Germans 
have seceded. In countries of divided allegiance, like Al- 
sace and Switzerland, the lines of religious cleavage do 
not agree with the political, racial or linguistic bound- 
aries. The notion that the liberty-loving North rose in 
rebellion whilst the more timid South was content with its 
chains is fanciful almost to the point of absurdity. For 
no one would accuse the French of intellectual timidity, 
least of all in religious matters : we are inclined to rebuke 
them for their excessive "free-thought"; and large ele- 
ments, in the North, changed their creed at the command 
of their masters with remarkable docility. 

It has been repeatedly said that "there was not enough 
religion in France to make two." There is little wisdom in 
that epigram. The intensity of religious feeling on both 
sides was as great in France as anywhere. The earnest- 
ness, the mental vigour, the moral courage of the Hugue- 

Tlie Reformation 95 

nots are universally admitted. But French Catholicism 
also has many admirable names on its roll : not only those 
of administrators and orators, but those of mystics, saints 
and apostles. In the field of foreign missions, Catholic 
France has done more than her share, and honours the 
memory of many martyrs. 

The fact is that the problem is much more complex 
than is usually believed. If we consider two elements 
only, we are bound to go astray. In every country, we 
can not understand the Reformation without a study of 
its relations with Humanism on the one hand, with the 
home policies and foreign policies of the Princes on the 
other. In France in particular, the conflict was not a 
single duel between Protestantism and Catholicism. 
There were four alternatives, not two, and a prolonged 
four-cornered fight took place between them. They were 
Boman Catholicism, Gallican Catholicism, Protestantism, 
and Free-Thought. Much that was achieved in other 
countries through the triumph of Protestantism was se- 
cured in France through what we may call the classical 
synthesis, or better the classical compromise, a modus 
vivendi between Rome, the Gallican tradition, and ration- 


It is necessary therefore to understand the Gallican 
position as an essential element in the problem. The 
Church of France, whilst recognizing without question 
the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, had always maintained 
a large degree of practical autonomy. The king was not 
merely the administrator of secular power: he was also, 
as we have seen, endowed with a sacred character of his 
own. He was the Lord's Anointed; his coronation, hal- 
lowed by the perennial miracle of the Holy Chrism, was 
a special sacrament, a kind of ordination ; his hands ac- 
quired the healing touch. He was not a mere lay ruler, 
but, like Constantine and Theodosius, a "Bishop from 
without," a "Bishop over Bishops." History had slowly 
strengthened these exalted claims. Although the Sor- 

96 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

bonne was a Catholic, not a French, institution, it was 
inevitable that the king of France should profit by its 
prestige. At the moment when the Papacy and the Em- 
pire were weakening each other through their violent 
conflict, the throne of France was occupied by a saint, 
and Louis IX was the most revered personage in Christen- 
dom. His attitude to the Holy See was one of respectful 
independence, and it is not surprising that a Pragmatic 
Sanction should have been ascribed to him, in which he 
was supposed to have proclaimed the principles of the 
Gallican Church. This Pragmatic of 1S69, in which Bos- 
suet still believed, has long been proved to be apocryphal : 
but legend, in this as in many other cases, had merely 
hardened a tendency into a fact. When Philip the Fair 
entered into conflict with the Pope, an assembly convened 
at Notre Dame supported the national sovereign. Dur- 
ing the "Babylonian Captivity" at Avignon, the Popes 
were almost the retainers of the French Kings, and the 
long schism that followed brought down the prestige of 
the papacy to its lowest ebb. In the fifteenth century, 
France was practically independent from Rome. The 
Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, in 1438, under Charles 
VII, was an unequivocal statement of Gallican autonomy. 

This policy of the monarchy was vigorously endorsed 
by the Parliament. That body was like a lay clergy, al- 
most fanatically devoted to a doctrine : the supremacy of 
the State. This doctrine the Parliament would defend 
even against the King. When Louis XI abolished the 
Pragmatic of Bourges, the Parliament refused to register 
his order. The conflict lasted throughout the reign ; the 
Parliament outlived the King, and the Pragmatic was 
restored. It was with the greatest difficulties that Francis 
I, autocratic though he was, secured the official registra- 
tion of the Concordat which superseded the Pragmatic. 
Up to the end of the ancient regime, the Parliament re- 
mained a pillar of Gallicanism more consistently roy- 
alist in this respect than the Kings themselves. 

The regime sanctioned by the Pragmatic of Bourges, 
and dear to the clergy and the people of France, con- 

The Reformation 97 

tamed elements of democracy as well as of national au- 
tonomy. The general councils were proclaimed superior 
to the Popes ; and to the chapters of cathedrals, collegial 
churches and abbeys was recognized the right of electing 
clerics to vacant positions. Francis I needed, for his 
Italian policy, the support of the Pope; the Pope desired 
above all the suppression of the hated Pragmatic. The 
result was the compromise known as the Concordat of 
1516. That instrument was to regulate the relations be- 
tween the Church and the French State until the Revolu- 

The chief point in the Concordat, from our point of 
view, is that it conferred upon the King the right of 
nominating a candidate to a vacant see, abbey or priory. 
The Pope alone could give the canonical "institution" or 
investiture : but, as he was not at liberty to withhold his 
confirmation, the royal nomination amounted to an ap- 
pointment. If in theory, the Concordat recognized to the 
Pope a greater power than had been admitted under the 
Pragmatic Sanction, in practice the King, not the Pope, 
was supreme in the French Church. 

The Concordat was far less simple than this summary 
indicates. Diplomatic compromises seldom are clear-cut 
and logical, and the ancient regime, so respectful of 
vested rights, seldom attempted sweeping changes, and 
never succeeded in carrying them out. Many benefices 
were conferred, not by the King, but by ecclesiastical, or 
even by lay, patrons ; the Pope preserved direct powers in 
a number of cases ; finally the right of capitular election 
was retained by certain abbeys, particularly by the 
wealthiest and most powerful of them all, Cluny and St. 
Denys. But the tendency of the Concordat was unmis- 
takable. Gallicanism was actually strengthened by this 
treaty which was supposed to endanger it: but it was 
royal Gallicanism. The Church lost much of her inde- 
pendence, not as against Rome, but as against the King. 
France was self-governing within Catholic Christendom: 
the French Church was no longer fully self-governing 
within the monarchy. She ceased to be a sovereign body, 

98 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

and became merely an Order: a transformation somewhat 
similar to the one which was turning the independent 
feudal caste into a court nobility. As late as the separa- 
tion of Church and State in 1905, these three factors en- 
tered into the problem: the Holy See, the secular Gov- 
ernment, and the French Clergy. Without disloyalty to 
either temporal or spiritual power, the Church of France 
would have liked to manage her own affairs and especially 
to dispose of her own immense resources: in 1516 as in 
1802, the two rulers came to an agreement to a large 
extent at the expense of the national clergy. 

This great strengthening of the King's hands had far- 
reaching consequences. First of all, there was for the 
French King none of the inducements that tempted some 
German princes from the Catholic fold. The French 
Church was already his own; he disposed freely of her 
benefices to reward his friends and servants, including 
artists and poets whose ecclesiastical qualifications were 
of the most meager. Many a courtier, "inditing a sonnet, 
was dreaming of a bishopric." A reformation on Lu- 
theran or Anglican lines, making him formally the eccle- 
siastical head of the nation, would neither greatly enhance 
his prestige, nor serve his material interests. Had the 
Pragmatic endured only a very few years longer, until 
the open rebellion of Luther and his excommunication, 
the history of France might have taken, a totally different 
turn. As it was, when the crisis broke out, the monarchy 
was committed through self -interest as well as conviction 
to the defense of Catholicism. The vaguely liberal sym- 
pathies of Francis I, the influence of his gifted and loving 
sister, the necessities of his European policy, which made 
him the ally of Protestants and Turks, could not prevail 
against that fundamental fact. 

Conversely, at a critical hour, the royal character of 
French Catholicism caused the masses of the French peo- 
ple to rally to its support: for "royal," in those days, was 
equivalent to "national." The balance was never equal 
between conservatives and reformers: the Protestants 
were from the first and in spite of themselves considered 

The Reformation 99 

as rebels against the State as well as against the Church. 
The Catholicism of Ronsard in his Discourses on the Evils 
of the Time, the hazy Catholicism of Montaigne, were 
political, not theological creeds. These men and most 
men in France were more interested in law and order, 
as embodied in the monarchy, than they were in tran- 
substantiation. This is confirmed by the fact that the 
extreme Catholics, the Holy Leaguers, in sympathy with 
Spain and in rebellion against their legitimate sovereign, 
were later to be combated for the same reasons. 

The large influence of the temporal power in the Royal 
Gallican Church attenuated in a marked degree the con- 
flict between orthodoxy and secular thought. The old 
Sorbonne was not allowed freely to tyrannize over the 
public mind: when its spokesman Beda went too far, 
Francis I had him arrested. During the whole classical 
period, the dangers of extreme clericalism were thus held 
in check; and this made the development of independent 
thought a possibility. It would have been difficult for 
Spanish Catholicism, for instance, to produce a Descartes, 
a Moliere, not to mention a Voltaire. It is amusing to 
note the number of semi-ecclesiastical personages not 
invariably edifying in the political and cultural history. 
of the ancient regime. Their archetype was Rabelais* 
that strange vagrant monk and priest, half-unfrocked 
and in open rebellion against the Sorbonne; and the line 
continues down to the society and philosophical Abbes of 
the eighteenth century, the most respectable of whom was 
probably the psychologist Condillac. In this respect 
again, the Gallican Church was not unlike the Anglican: 
Voltaire might very well have been an Abbe, just as Swift 
became a Dean. 


The urgent need for religious reform had been felt for 
several generations before 1500. But, early in the six- 
teenth century, it took a definite turn. Medieval inhibi- 
tions had grown weaker, on account of the long scandal 
of the great schism; and the European mind had ex- 

100 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

perlenced a revival of self-confidence and energy. Hu- 
manism, in the larger sense, and the reforming spirit, 
combined to form a kind of early Protestantism, very 
different, however, from the open revolts led by Luther 
and Calvin. 

It was an ambiguous movement, at the same time con- 
servative and liberal, and therefore doomed to failure. 
Wisdom is with the moderates, but fanaticism alone 
arouses enthusiasm. The best representatives of that 
state of mind were Erasmus who, as a good European, 
belongs to the history of French culture as well as to that 
of the Netherlands and Rabelais. Both were determined 
critics of ecclesiastical abuses; both were particularly 
bitter against the massive pedantic ignorance of the the- 
ologians, and both sought in the new learning salvation 
from scholasticism. Both had transcended the region of 
dogmatic discussion, and had no desire to exchange one 
narrow orthodoxy for another. Both, for all their intel- 
lectual daring, were prudent, sensible and somewhat timid 
men: Rabelais was ready to maintain his opinions "to the 
g re exclusively," and that "exclusively 95 disqualified him 
as a leader. So they wielded little influence in the re- 
ligious crisis. When the struggle became too bitter, Ra- 
belais toned down his virulent attacks against the Sor- 
bonne; he was very angry with Dolet for reprinting his 
book without these attenuations; he was most probably 
sincere, although a trifle over-emphatic, when he called 
Calvin "demoniacal." He had no more sympathy with 
Papefigue (Pope-scorner) than he had with Papimane 
(Pope-worshipper) . The violent anti-Catholic tone of his 
posthumous Fifth Book is usually accepted as evidence 
that the work is to a large extent apocryphal. Rabelais 
is a thorough "naturalist" and "humanist": man to him 
is the end and the measure of all things. He has there- 
fore no place in the history of orthodox supernatural re- 

A long step further on the way to the Reformation we 
find Lef evre of Etaples and his school. Lef evre believed 
in faith above works, in grace and not in human merits. 

The Reformation 101 

In this, he was at least as radically opposed to the a nat- 
uralists" like Rabelais as to the upholders of a supersti- 
tious ecclesiasticism. In Lefevre aU the essentials of 
Protestantism are to be found : against spurious authori- 
ties and corrupt traditions, he appealed to Christ alone, 
and to the pure doctrine of the apostles. A true Renais- 
sance scholar, he wanted "a return to Antiquity/' and the 
restoration of the original sacred texts s in the same spirit 
as Bude or Estienne attempted to give correct editions of 
the classics. He desired to clear the very sources of re- 
ligious life from the age-long deposit of medieval legends ; 
and he wanted also to make these living waters available 
to all men, through French translations of the Old and of 
the New Testaments. His thought was fully formed by 
1508, before Luther could have any influence upon him; 
and he gathered round him a number of earnest men, 
Bude, Farel, Cop, RousseL 

He was in particular the spiritual center of the "group 
of Meaux," thus named because Bri9onnet, a friend of 
Lefevre, became Bishop of that see in 1516. In 1523, 
Lefevre was made Bri9onnet ? s Vicar General. This 
purely French and peaceful Reformation enjoyed the 
sympathy and active support of Marguerite d'Angou- 
leme, sister of Francis I, and Queen of Navarre. It is 
odd that this gentle, scholarly and deeply religious prin- 
cess should be chiefly remembered for her Heptameron, a 
pastiche of Boccaccio, in which themes and treatment are 
as risky as in the original, whilst the brilliancy of the 
Italian is wholly lacking. Clement Marot, the pretty 
court poet, belonged through some accident to this twilit 
school : his graceful levity, his superficial sensuous grace, 
hardly prepared him to be the translator of the Psalms, 
and to suffer persecution and exile for his faith. 

Marguerite herself is an excellent example of the group. 
She had no desire for a violent rupture with ecclesiastical 
authority; whatever changes were necessary should be 
effected quietly and from within. Her religious attitude 
would be recognized to-day as purely Protestant: it was 
a gentle mysticism seeking direct support in the promises 

102 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

of Scripture. But her theology was never clearly formu- 
lated, and she did not challenge the essential Catholic 
dogmas, or even the main points of Catholic discipline. 

This moderate reformation, like the enlightened hu- 
manism of Erasmus and Rabelais, was destined to be 
swept aside. In theology, Lefevre was soon left behind 
by Luther, and then by Calvin. Brifonnet, in his dio- 
cese, forbade the reading of Luther's works (1523), and, 
whilst not persecuting on his own authority, he did noth- 
ing to avert persecution. Perhaps the worst obstacle to 
the success of the school was that it insisted on piety and 
righteous living rather than upon dogma. Francis I 
might conceivably have accommodated himself with any 
doctrine : we can imagine him as a Landgrave of Hessen 
or as a Henry VIII. But the quiet and austere mysticism 
of the group of Meaux was out of harmony with the 
pleasure-loving spirit of the court. Thanks to Margue- 
rite's protection and to his own moderation, Brifonnet 
escaped censure and died in peace in 1534. Lefevre 
found refuge in Marguerite's little court at Nerac, until 
his death in 1536 or ? 37, The school thus faded away 
without any tragic crisis : it shared the dismal fate of most 
half -revolutions. 


On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety- 
five theses upon the door of the Court Church at Witten- 
berg; in 1518, Zwingli initiated his reform movement at 
Zurich. Their names and their activities were almost im- 
mediately known in France. Lefevre and his friends were 
at first favourable. But when Luther was excommuni- 
cated in 1520, the French reformers were hopelessly di- 
vided. Some, like Clichtove, who had been among the 
most active lieutenants of Lefevre, rallied to the strictest 
orthodoxy taught by the Sorbonne. The principal lead- 
ers, Lefevre himself, Briyonnet, Marguerite, persisted in 
their gentle dream of a change of heart without any dog- 
matic upheaval. Many went over to the bolder doctrines 
from Germany, and complained that they were abandoned 

The Reformation 103 

and even persecuted by their former friends and masters* 
About 1530, a Protestant party was already in existence* 
and, between 1530 and 1536, we see the definite begin- 
nings of a Protestant Church. 

During these critical years, French Protestantism was 
without a leader: Lefevre and Brifonnet wanted to stop 
on the hither side of heresy and schism. It was therefore 
a ubiquitous, spontaneous growth. Not of learned origin : 
artisans rushed where humanists feared to tread. It was 
not until 1533 that Calvin sprang into prominence and 
it was only two years later, with his Christian Institute, 
that he assumed the spiritual guidance of the movement. 

John Calvin (or Cauvin) was born at Noyon in 1509. 
The influence of his father, agent for the clergy of the 
diocese, had prepared for him an easy and profitable 
career in the Church. At the age of twelve, he was nom- 
inally "in charge" of a chapel in the Cathedral : that is to 
say, he pocketed the revenues attached to it. But he con- 
scientiously prepared himself for his ecclesiastical duties. 
He was a student in Paris (152327), at Orleans and 
Bourges (1528-29), in Paris again (1529-33). The 
Universities of Orleans and Bourges specialized in civil 
and canon law. A long tradition ascribes to Normans and 
Picards a peculiar aptitude and excessive fondness for 
the law. Calvin's father had legal training; and Calvin 
himself revealed in his thought the qualities of a jurist 
even more than those of a philologist, a philosopher or a 

In November, 1533, the Rector of the University of 
Paris, Cop, opened the session with a speech that had been 
prepared for him by young Calvin. This speech was by 
no means radical in its theology, nor was it defiant in 
tone. The Blessed Virgin was solemnly invoked ; divisions 
were deprecated and the spirit of peace extolled. Yet it 
was virulently denounced by the conservatives, and such 
was the opposition that Cop and Calvin found it neces- 
sary to flee. 

The King, however, was still reluctant to be forced into 
the camp of the Sorbonne extremists. Thanks to this 

104 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

hesitating policy, Calvin was able to return to Paris, 
whilst Beda, the most violent of the reactionaries, was 
exiled for the second time. But the neophyte zeal of the 
new faith left little room for compromise. Already in 
15S, a statue of the Virgin had been desecrated in Paris, 
and that sacrilege had caused an explosion of Catholic 
passion. Of this angry mood, Louis de Berquin was the 
victim in 1529: accused of being in sympathy with Eras- 
mus and Luther, he was, not the first martyr, but the first 
martyr of note. In October, 1534, placards posted in 
Paris and in the provinces violently attacked the Mass as 
idolatrous. This lashed to fury the fanaticism, not of the 
Sorbonne only, but of the whole population. Terrible 
reprisals followed : hundreds of men were arrested, scores 
were taken to the gallows or to the stake : Clement Marot, 
a personal favourite of the King, had to run away. On 
January 21st, 1535, in solemn expiation for the blasphe- 
mies of the placards, a great procession was ordered in 
Paris. It was devoutly followed by the King, bareheaded, 
wax taper in hand. Now Francis I was committed : but 
even then, he still strove for peace. In 1535, he offered 
an amnesty, and was hoping against hope for reconcilia- 
tion. More decisively, Calvin had taken his choice. He 
went again into exile, never to return. 

Calvin sought refuge, first in Basel, then in Geneva 
(1536). Banished from the latter in 1538, he was re- 
called in 1541. Henceforth and until his death in 1564, 
he ruled the little republic with a rod of iron. His life 
and work at Geneva belong to general history rather than 
to the study of French civilization. Suffice it to say that 
Geneva became the Protestant Rome, the school of doc- 
tors, and the school of martyrs as well. Theodore de Beze 
(Beza) was chief among the field agents of the new 
church. The French Protestants or Huguenots now had 
a head, an organization, a doctrine. Under persecution, 
which was severe during the last years of Francis I and 
pitiless under Henry II, their faith grew more definite 
and more ardent. Against this persecution there was as 
yet no organized resistance. 

The Protestant Reformation was now complete, and we 

The Reformation 105 

may attempt to analyze Its chief elements. It was ob- 
viously the fruit of the teeming activity and self-confi- 
dence of the time, like the revival of learning, the artistic 
Renaissance, the great inventions and the great discov- 
eries. In this domain also, man wanted to be emancipated 
from what seemed the senile childishness of the old order. 
Luther, like Rabelais, felt that at last the human mind 
had emerged from "Gothic night." There was at the 
basis of the Reformation something of the joyous spirit 
that filled Pantagruel. It can be felt in Luther's table 
talk. It is admirably voiced by Ulrich von Hiitten: "O 
Century! It is a joy to be alive!" "The wind of free- 
dom blows!" Unfortunately, this spirit did not prevail 
in French Protestantism. No wind of freedom blew where 
Calvin reigned; nor was it a joy to be alive. 

The Reformation was akin also to the other side of the 
Renaissance, the narrower Humanism, the return to an- 
tiquity. Pantagruelism was looking forward, and was to 
inspire Bacon's great profession of scientific optimism: 
"The golden age is before us, not behind. 5 ' On the other 
hand, classical scholarship, Vergilianism, Ciceronianism, 
the Aristotelian tyranny in logic, rhetoric and poetics, 
were forms of antiquarian superstition, text-worship, lit- 
eralism, in a word bibliolatry. This element entered for a 
large part into the Reformation, and warped its course. 
Hitherto, the supreme authority in religion had been the 
living Church : she was the appointed guardian of a tradi- 
tion anterior to the New Testament, and of which the Bible 
itself was only a part; she was the interpreter of a con- 
tinuous revelation. Now, fifteen Christian centuries were 
declared dead, and ruled out of spiritual history in the 
same way as they were contemptuously brushed away 
from literary history. In this respect, Humanism and 
Reformation alike were reactionary. Worse: they not 
only wanted to put history back, they did not want it to 
resume its course. To the apostolic generation and to 
the writers of the Augustan age had been entrusted for 
the last time the immutable words of divine and human 

The Reformation took a very definite theological turn. 

106 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

But its very essence was not theological: it was moral 
The corruption of Christendom was flagrant : the Church 
herself set about to reform it, and succeeded to a large 
extent, as she had repeatedly done before. But this time, 
self -reformation came too late to avert a schism. At the 
point of departure, we find definite evils; the next step 
was an attack upon the powers that permitted such evils ; 
the third, a denial of the traditions or doctrines that these 
powers invoked in their defence; the fourth only a con- 
sistent revised theology. The luxury of the Roman 
Court, the sale of indulgences, the existence of Purgatory, 
the worship of the saints were thus challenged in order. 
Ultimately, this led to the denial of Papal authority, and 
to the substitution of the Bible for the Church as the sole 
rule of faith. Puritanism therefore is not a by-product 
of the Reformation, but its starting point and its great- 
est glory. We do not mean that all Protestants were vir- 
tuous, and that they had a monopoly of virtue. Few 
Protestants could rival the devotion, the energetic asceti- 
cism, the thirst for martyrdom found in the annals of 
many religious orders. The Huguenots had not a few 
disreputable leaders, like Chatillon, Conde, or, on a lower 
plane, des Adrets. Henry of Navarre was no saint, even 
when he was their champion and their idol ; and few Cath- 
olics were more dissolute than the nominally Protestant 
court of Charles II in the next century. Still, it was 
moral indignation and the love of right living rather than 
theology that made saints and martyrs. In France par- 
ticularly, the necessities of a desperate struggle further 
deepened this original austerity. In their puritanism, 
the Huguenots were at odds not merely with the relaxed 
Catholics of the Valois court, they opposed also the in- 
dulgent naturalism of Pantagruel, which might so easily 
lead to self-indulgence ; they hated even more the revived 
Paganism, the unmoral virtH, of the Italian humanists 
and artists. In this respect, the Renaissance and the Ref- 
ormation diverged irremediably. Rabelais was a wor- 
shipper of Physis, Calvin the Pope of Antiphysis : for his 
cardinal dogma was the depravity of human nature. 

The Reformation 107 

The practices denounced by the Protestants as super- 
stitions and abuses were called by the Catholics "pious 
works." It was an easy temptation, in the heat of con- 
troversy, to condemn, not mechanical and soulless works 
only, but all human works as utterly worthless. Since all 
merit is denied to human activity, since human nature is 
utterly corrupt, man can not be saved through his own 
efforts, but exclusively through the grace of God. The 
pitiless and irrefutable logic of Calvin did not shrink 
from the last consequence: the unqualified denial of free 
will. This faith which is so often praised as the triumph 
of liberty in the modern world denies liberty at every 
turn. There is no free thought in orthodox Calvinism: 
the infallibility of Scripture allows of none; neither is 
there any freedom of action. Yet out of this doctrine of 
enslavement did rise some of the strongest characters in 
history. The creed itself would lead to a somber and pas- 
sive fatalism: what saved the Huguenots was their atti- 
tude of rebellion. To break away from ancestral faith, 
to defy spiritual and secular authority, to court persecu- 
tion and martyrdom required daring and vigorous souls. 
When the new faith became safe and honourable; when 
people called themselves Calvinists out of respect for tra- 
dition and conformity; when Protestantism no longer 
voiced the spirit of protest, the salt of the earth lost its 

It was not until the reign of the weak child Francis II 
that the conflict between the two Churches blazed into 
civil war. Some Protestant leaders had hoped to remove 
the sickly young king from the influence of the queen's 
uncles, the Guises, and to bring him under their own. It 
was the Hi-concerted and ill-fated conspiracy of Amboise. 
From that moment (1560) to the abjuration of Henry IV 
(1593), France knew no peace. 

For this horrible welter, in which the country nearly 
perished, the conflicting creeds were only partly to blame. 
No doubt, throughout the land. Catholics and Protestants 

108 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

fought cruelly for their faith; both sides persecuted and 
committed atrocities wherever they had the upper hand. 
But these wars soon became chiefly political. They should 
be named the wars of the Guises rather than the wars of 

At first, the chief rival of the Guises was a Catholic, the 
Constable of France, Montinorency. The three nephews 
of Montmorency, Admiral de Coligny, d'Andelot, and 
Cardinal de Chatillon, became later the leaders of the 
Huguenots. They united forces with the Bourbon-Conde- 
Navarre connection; and the struggle between the two 
groups recalled the reckless fury of the feud between 
Armagnacs and Burgundians during the Hundred Years 
War. The Huguenots sought support from abroad: the 
Netherlands, the German Protestants, Elizabeth. The 
Guises allied themselves with Spain. 

Between the two raging parties, the monarchy was 
helpless. Under the three degenerate sons of Henry II 
Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III their mother, 
Catherine de ? Medici was, if not the actual ruler, at least 
a constant and trusted counsellor. Her policy shifted be- 
wilderingly: at times she attempted to annihilate the 
Protestants, as in the night of St. Bartholomew (1572) ; 
at other times, she flattered them, granted them amnesties 
and privileges, used them to check the overbearing power 
of the ultra-Catholic Guises. Some recent historians have 
praised the fitful, disingenuous and cruel methods of 
Catherine as masterly. It seems that the middle course, 
advocated by the Chancellor, Michel de PHospital, could 
have been followed without these unaccountable and tragic 

The confused details of the struggle fortunately do not 
belong to our field. The murder of Guise at Blois, by 
order of the King (December, 1588), led to the assassina- 
tion of Henry III in July, 1589. Distracted France 
found herself with her capital in the hands of a fanatical 
religious demagogy, an odd alliance of monks and aris- 
tocrats with the rabble. The legitimate King, Henry of 
Navarre, detested as a heretic, was a mere adventurer, 

The Reformation 109 

wandering gallantly enough through his recreant king- 
dom at the head of a small army of his partisans. 

The excess of evil led to a solution which determined the 
course of French history for the nest two hundred years. 
The monarchy, weak as it had become, remained the only 
possible center of authority in a divided nation. To the 
legitimate king, heretic though he was, rallied all the 
moderate and patriotic elements, all those who were not 
Huguenots first of all, and not Holy Leaguers, but 
Frenchmen, and lovers of order and peace. This spirit 
found expression in the clever Satire Menippee, the work 
of a few witty and sensible bourgeois. 

The great obstacle to national reconciliation was the 
religion of Henry IV. France had not sold herself to the 
bigoted Holy League ; neither had she become Protestant ; 
she had remained moderately and firmly Gallican. Henry 
IV declared that "Paris was well-worth a mass," and pro- 
fessed himself ready to "turn somersault.' 9 These cavalier 
expressions show clearly enough that theology and mys- 
ticism had little share in the King's change of heart. But 
the moderate royalists, or "Political Party," declared 
themselves satisfied. Henry IV could at last enter his 
capital, which as a Huguenot he had besieged in vain. 
With his unique combination of military talent, diplo- 
macy, genuine kindness and Gascon bluff, he defeated, 
wheedled, bribed or otherwise won over his last enemies, 
and pieced together his ruined kingdom. To his former 
companions the Huguenots, he granted complete liberty 
of conscience, and full equality before the law, with mixed 
Courts as a guarantee of justice. Realizing that they 
were a minority, and that the new regime was still pre- 
carious, he gave them also, temporarily, places of refuge, 
with Protestant garrisons paid by the State. This was 
the generous and statesmanlike Edict of Nantes (1598). 

Monarchical unity appeared to the French mind as the 
sole method of salvation: this was the political lesson 
taught by thirty-three years of war. From the religious 
point of view, the natural conclusion was the tolerant and 
sceptical common sense which had finally guided Henry 

110 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

IV and the "Political Party." The evils of fanaticism 
were patent: fanaticism therefore was the enemy. This 
second lesson was drawn, for all time, by the philosopher 
of the age, Montaigne. Are we not prizing our own opin- 
ions too highly when we "roast people alive 59 because they 
do not agree with us? Is not the record of human beliefs 
a chaos of contradictions and absurdities? (Apology for 
Raymond de Sebonde.) What do I know? Man is so 
fluctuating and diverse ! All this, after so many trenchant 
affirmations supported by fire and sword, was wisdom 
indeed, and wisdom that remains useful and true. But it 
was a modest, a negative, almost a despairing kind of 
wisdom: the weary soberness that comes after an orgy. 
Montaigne is human, humane, sensible, congenial, delight- 
ful: but a trifle selfish, unpoetical, and not heroic in the 
least. The splendour of hope had faded, that we found 
in the hymn to the sacred herb Pantagruelion 

France was now ready for an age of order almost at 
any price, of unity, of conformity. But the order had 
not been imposed by a tyrant: it had been deliberately 
chosen by common sense. Authority in harmony with 
reason : such was to be the keynote of the new century. 




I. The growth of absolutism clear through the centuries, but 
with eclipses. Weakness of Henry IVs position in 1598: nobles, 
cities. Huguenots still ready to rebel. 

II. Henry IVs method: diplomacy, kindness, conscious use 
of his popularity. Autocracy by persuasion. Reconstruction: 
ably seconded by Sully. Foreign policy: the "Grand Design* '? 

III. Relapse into chaos after Henry IVs death. Richelieu, 
Louis XIII's constant support. Ruthless temper and method of 
Richelieu: contrast with Henry IV. 

IV. Richelieu's Policy: against the Huguenots, against the 
nobles, against the House of Austria. Clear change from semi- 
feudal to bureaucratic monarchy. Richelieu's failure as a finan- 
cial administrator: constant difficulties. 

V. The Regency of Anne of Austria. Mazarin. The Fronde. 
France ruined. Mazarin's ultimate triumph, at home and abroad. 

IN the perspective of centuries, the growth of absolut- 
ism in France is unmistakable. It was a permanent 
tendency of the dynasty : even the weakest Capetians 
dreamed of being "emperors in their realm." And this 
tendency was usually aided, not resisted, by the common 
people: any departure from it, it was thought, would lead 
to disaster. Absolute monarchy alone represented unity 
and order against the anarchy of warring nobles ; alone it 
could serve as a rallying point against the ambitions of 
foreign powers England in the middle ages, the House 
of Austria during the classical period. This is the very 
thread of French history. The dynasty had actually cre- 
ated the nation, by increasing the royal domain, and by 
making itself unquestionably supreme within the bound- 
aries of the kingdom. Any falling away from this norm, 
through the fault of a worthless king, of selfish nobles, or 
of a demagogue like Etienne Marcel, was felt to be an 


114 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

aberration and a crime. This thread leads us from Philip 
the Fair to Francis I, from Francis I to Louis XIV, from 
Louis XIV to Napoleon, in whom the immemorial aspira- 
tions of ancient France for unity, order and prestige were 
magnificently fulfilled at last. 

But it is only in the course of centuries that the trend 
thus becomes manifest. The three Orders of ancient 
France, and the Kings themselves, were not so^ clearly 
conscious of the process as Charles Maurras and his school 
are at present. Especially at the close of the religious 
wars, men's minds were still in a state of extraordinary 
confusion, and "classical order 33 was a remote ideal. 
Through his abjuration, Henry IV became truly King of 
France. He had the hearty support of the Moderates, 
the "Third Party," the "Politiques." The Moderates, in 
all probability, represented the majority: but that ma- 
jority was voiceless and inert; among the active elements, 
the Moderates were themselves a minority. It would be 
a delusion to imagine the French unanimously falling on 
their knees before their legitimate sovereign. ^ Such har- 
mony between ruler and country had existed in 1515; it 
was to be found again, on the death of Mazarin, when 
Louis XIV began his personal reign ; the Consulate of 
Napoleon Bonaparte offered another example of willing 
submission to a national leader. Nothing of the sort oc- 
curred in 1593. Voltaire opens his Henriad with the 
lines : "I sing the hero who reigned over France, both by 
the right of conquest and by the right of his birth. 55 But 
when Henry IV was finally acknowledged, the actual con- 
quest of his kingdom was still precarious and incomplete. 
His hereditary title alone had not been sufficient to secure 
the crown for him. He was by no means the heir of an 
unchallenged tradition and the idol of the people; he did 
not impose himself, he was compelled to compromise. Not 
in theory perhaps, but undoubtedly in practice, his con- 
version to Catholicism was stringently imposed upon him. 
It was not the white-plumed hero of Arques and Ivry that 
triumphed, but the supple, canny, resourceful diploma- 
tist. These humble beginnings of Henry's reign im- 

The Restoration of Authority 115 

mensely Increase the brilliancy of Ms ultimate success. A 
conquest It was, but a personal conquest, through cunning 
and through service, through charm and through kind- 
ness. No doubt he was carried on a tide of public opin- 
ion: but the stream was so uncertain at first, so full of 
treacherous eddies, that the skill of the pilot appears little 
short of miraculous. 

The leaders of the contending parties, and particularly 
those of the Holy Catholic League, had entrenched them- 
selves in the government of provinces and cities; below 
them, local tyrants were attempting to create a new petty 
feudalism. In a ruined kingdom, Henry had to find enor- 
mous sums in order to bribe his former enemies. One 
after the other they "sold out" to him, for cash and hon- 
ours. Brissac surrendered Paris for 480,000 livres ; Vitry 
gave up Meaux for 169,000 ; Villars sold the fortresses of 
Normandy for 4,000,000; Mayenne received 3,500,000 
for Burgundy; Guise nearly 4,000,000 for Champagne. 
Another Guise, Mercoeur, in Brittany, had succeeded in 
reviving the old local patriotism of the province ; he hoped 
to make himself hereditary Duke, perhaps independent 
from France under the protection of Spain. He was the 
last to give up, and the greediest: in 1598, he exacted 
more than 4,000,000. Poetic justice was rudely set at 
naught : the great nobles who had caused such untold mis- 
ery retired unpunished, their coffers bulging with gold; 
and their daughters married into the royal family. 

Even after they had given up their claim to feudal in- 
dependence, the nobles remained unmanageable. The dis- 
cipline which Francis I had been able to maintain had 
been ruined through a whole generation of anarchy. No 
majesty did hedge round a King whom all had known as 
an enemy, a hated heretic, an adventurer. His officers, 
if they attempted to enforce his edicts, were derided, or 
forcibly resisted : in making their peace with a successful 
rival, such men as Mercoeur, Epernon, Soissons, had no 
thought of submitting to the common law. The conta- 
gion of this spirit affected even the King's personal 
friends. Biron, whom he had made a Duke and Peer, 

116 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Marshal of France, Governor of Burgundy, plotted 
against him with Savoy and Spain, and planned for his 
assassination. Forgiven once by Henry, he betrayed him 
again, and was beheaded in 1602. Not only did Joinville 
and Bouillon conspire with Spain, but also one of his 
favourites, Henriette d'Entraigues, and her family. 
Under Francis I, Bourbon had been an anachronism, a 
monstrous exception: under Henry IV , the King was not 
sure even of his closest friends. 

The cities followed the example of the nobles : they too 
refused to surrender unconditionally. Lyons, Meaux, 
Orleans, stipulated that the King should maintain within 
their walls only a limited garrison, or none at all : with 
the result that Amiens, ill-guarded by its militia, was sur- 
prised by the Spaniards in 1597. The Huguenots were 
restive: they formed an organized republic within the 
State. With them also, it was necessary to compromise: 
the Edict of Nantes gave them more than their religious 
liberty. They secured guarantees which were contrary to 
the unity of the kingdom: they were allowed to protect 
themselves, because the King was aware that he could not 
adequately protect them. 


In presence of such difficulties, a weakling would have 
been annihilated; well-meaning obstinacy, calling itself 
strength of mind, would have led to a renewal of the civil 
war; even an upright and vigorous prince might easily 
have succumbed. Fortunately, Henry IV possessed a 
unique blend of human and statesmanlike qualities. "Step 
by step" was his watchword. The nation trusted him, but 
at first trusted him only a little: it was his talent to make 
that little fructify. Naturally subtle and supple, with 
the exterior and the manners of a bluff man-at-arms, and 
trained to patience in the school of adversity, he knew how 
to yield, when resistance was not worth the candle. Sully, 
his companion, hated the thought of squandering all that 
good money on worthless traitors : "If we fight for it, said 

The Restoration of Authority 117 

Henry, it will cost us ten times more. 5 * But he yielded 
without creating the impression of weakness: he yielded 
because he could afford not to yield. He was conscious 
of his military talents, of his growing popularity, of the 
strength of his royal title. So he allowed himself to be 
plundered so gracefully, with such cordial dignity, that 
in giving way he made it plain that he was conferring a 
favour. He was willing to liquidate the situation at a 
heavy cost, provided the settlement was final. "Good-bye ! 55 
he gaily cried to the Spanish troops as they were leaving 
Paris. "Commend me to your master; but do not come 
back again P 5 They did not come back: whatever gains 
he made, great or small, he managed to hold. Bribery 
usually breeds more bribery : but the great lords whom he 
had paid found that they had been bought, and bought 
once for all. "Paris was not built in one day, 35 was an- 
other of his favourite sayings. He did not fully tame his 
nobility : but each year their tone was a trifle lower. They 
were feeling the iron hand. 

No prince ever put more diplomacy at the service of 
authority. It was not purely cleverness on his part: he 
was a kind man, and hated to hurt. The opening words 
of a speech to the Assembly of Notables convened at 
Rouen in 1596 are an excellent example of his method: 
"I did not call you, as my predecessors did, merely to have 
you endorse my decisions ; I brought you together to hear 
your counsels, to believe them, to follow them, in a word 
to place myself entirely in your hands. . . ." Is this a 
complete surrender? Henry does not mean it so, and does 
not want his words to be so misinterpreted. So he adds : 
"Such a desire is not customary with Kings, grey-beards, 
and conquerors." Naturally, the Notables advised and 
granted everything that he wanted. "My predecessors, 5 ' 
he said to his Parliament, "were afraid of you, and did not 
love you. I love you, and I fear you not. 55 When he 
forced the Edict of Nantes down their throats, he used 
the same unexampled mixture of familiarity, persuasion 
and authority. "I am working for peace : those who wish 
to hinder my Edict want war. You will be very ungrate- 

118 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

ful if you cause me this trouble. . . . I am the King now: 
as King do I speak, and mean to be obeyed. 55 Was his 
tone a little too peremptory? He hastens to correct the 
impression : "Grant to my entreaties that which you would 
refuse to menaces. You will not do it for my sake, but 
for your own, and in the interest of peace. 55 The Parlia- 
ment of Paris yielded; the other Courts followed, with 
some reluctance. On the 1st of January, 1600, the Edict 
was the law of the whole land. 

Henry IV was popular, and knew that his popularity 
was an asset : he cultivated it for the good of the kingdom. 
Like Napoleon, he collaborated actively, consciously, to 
the growth of his own legend a legend more amiable and 
considerably truer than Napoleon 5 s. He was not insin- 
cere: he played a part, but that part was himself. He 
was expected to be gay, impulsive, familiar: he did not 
have to wear a mask, he had only to show the public that 
side of his nature that the public wanted to see. Frank- 
lin, during his stay in Paris, exploited his own personage 
with exactly the same kind of shrewdness: calculating, 
yet not deceitful. Roosevelt also carefully and honestly 
lived up to the type that he had made famous. These 
men were not histrionic. Henry IV had played, and was 
still playing, too desperate a game, with the welfare of 
the country as the stake, not to use his popularity for all 
it was worth. Of no other ruler are there so many 
friendly anecdotes reported, so many wise and kindly 
sayings, at times homely and f olklike, at other times more 
flamboyant, with a touch of bravado, a romantic waving 
of the white plume. His very weaknesses served him: he 
was le Vert Gdlant, the ardent but not too exclusive lover. 
His affair with Gabrielle d'Estrees, with its mysterious 
and tragic end, rather endeared him to the Gallic heart ; 
and he was easily forgiven when, in late middle life, the 
most powerful king in Christendom, he pursued at the 
same time his "Grand Design 55 for the reorganization of 
Europe, and the charming little Princess of Cond6. 

Thus was authority gently, almost imperceptibly re- 
stored. It was autocracy by persuasion with the stick 

The Restoration of Authority 119 

in reserve: "Baton porte paix" But the wearing down 
of opposition was the lesser part of his task : the problem 
was to use his authority for the public good. Especially 
after internal and external peace had been established in 
1598, Henry IV did bend aH Ms efforts to the restoration 
of his ruined land. He found in Maximilian de Bethune, 
Duke of Sully, an ideal collaborator. Sully could be an 
able general, a treasurer of unexampled efficiency, a pro- 
moter of agriculture and public works. The highways 
were improved by him, and lined with trees which the 
peasants long called by one of his names, "Rosny." Reg- 
ular relays of horses for the use of the public were organ- 
ized. The first French canal with locks was begun be- 
tween the Seine and the Loire (canal of Briare) ; the 
Southern Canal between the Mediterranean and the Ga- 
ronne was planned. Henry believed with Sully that 
"ploughed field and pasture land were the two fountains 
of life for France" : he read assiduously the famous trea- 
tise of Oliver de Serres, Theatre d' Agriculture. But, 
broader-minded than Sully, he also favoured industry, 
foreign trade, luxury. He planted mulberry trees, so 
that France could produce her own silk; he displayed 
with great pride silk stockings of French manufacture; 
he started the tapestry works of the Gobelins. No doubt 
the ruins of forty years were not repaired in one day. 
The "boiled fowl," la poule au pot, that he wanted to see 
on every peasant's table of a Sunday, remained a pious 
wish. But prosperity did return, in an appreciable mea- 
sure. For a wonder, the taille, the chief tax on the com- 
moners, was lightened. Sully, whilst relieving the burden 
of the people, filled his arsenal with ordnance, and his 
vaults with a war chest, enormous at the time, of 20,000,- 
000 livres. As in the days of St. Louis, the prestige of 
the French King went far beyond the frontiers of his 
country. He was still in his prime, and his work far from 
completed, when he perished under the knife of a fanatic, 

His death leaves unsolved the fascinating riddle of his 
foreign policy. He was about to embark on a great en- 

120 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

terprise. Would he have worked in European affairs as 
great and as heneficial a transformation as he had already 
achieved in his own kingdom? He had sound principles, 
and Sully, at any rate, ascribed to him grandiose proj- 
ects. Long before Napoleon III that ill-fated forerun- 
ner of ill-fated Woodrow Wilson he had clearly ex- 
pressed the "Doctrine of Nationalities" : let all Spaniards 
be ruled by the King of Spain, all French-speaking peo- 
ple by the King of France. That ideal was singularly 
more practical than the dreams of Italian conquest which 
had haunted four kings for three-quarters of a century ; 
it was much more feasible than the notion of the 'historic 5 
and 'natural 5 frontier of the Rhine, which had already 
taken hold of French imagination. His great Peace Plan 
may have existed only in Sully's mind. It was nobly con- 
ceived: but even if it had been practicable, it would, not 
have led to permanent peace, for, like Napoleon's scheme 
of European organization, it implied the supremacy of 
France. It may be that both his doctrine of nationalities 
and his Grand Design were only Gasconnades: he was 
essentially an opportunist. Certain it is that he was pre- 
paring for war with many trumps in his hand. He had 
money, and a kingdom at peace. He had an army, and, 
for the first time, almost a national army. He was a good 
commander, who had not only won the brilliant skirmishes 
of Arques and Ivry, but who had maneuvered without 
loss of prestige against the most famous general of the 
time, the Duke of Parma. He had good lieutenants, the 
chief of whom came from his trusted Huguenots. He 
died, and all his plans went for naught. 


Here the spasmodic character of monarchical institu- 
tions appeared again with sinister clearness. "The King 
is dead : long live the King !' 5 does not tell the whole story 
when a child of nine succeeds a Henry IV. The Parlia- 
ment, only too glad to assume political powers, entrusted 
the regency, "according to custom, 5 ' to the Queen Mother, 

The Restoration of Authority 

Marie de* Medici. The Regent was an ignorant, weak- 
minded and lethargic woman, very much under the influ- 
ence of her compatriots, Concini and his wife Leonora 
Galigai. These foreign adventurers, who had at least the 
merit of discovering Richelieu, became the actual rulers 
of France, to the great disgust of the French nobility. 

The dangerous policy of bribing malcontents was re- 
sorted to again : but it had required the tact, the firmness, 
the personal authority, the reserve strength of Henry IV 
to make it a success. Under a weak ruler, each dole served 
only to whet the appetite of the aristocracy. "The days 
of kings are over: the days of princes have come, 5 ' they 
arrogantly proclaimed. Jealous of Concini, they rebelled 
against the Regent, giving as their justification the very 
prodigalities by which they had profited. To cover their 
mutiny with a semblance of legality, they clamoured for 
the States General. These were convened in 1614. The 
utter selfishness, not only of the two privileged orders, 
but also of the Third Estate, was again manifest, as well 
as their irremediable disunion. This abortive assembly 
was dismissed, not to meet again for one hundred and 
seventy-five years. 

In 1617, a bold plot, with the complicity of the King, 
destroyed Concini. The Marshal d'Ancre, as he was now 
called, was shot down as he was entering the Louvre, and 
no one rose to avenge him. This marked also the end of 
the Queen Mother's ascendancy. But it meant only the 
substitution of one worthless favourite for another : d 9 Al- 
bert de Luynes, who had amused the boy King with his 
skill in falconry, misruled in his stead until December, 

It took three more years for the "appointed man" to 
make himself supreme. Armand de Richelieu, Bishop of 
Lufon and Cardinal, had served Marie de* Medici and 
worked under Concini. He had somehow offended the 
King: "At last, Lu^on, I am free from your tyranny!" 
Louis XIII angrily cried when the Italian Marshal had 
fallen. Yet Richelieu was to conquer the King, and to 
keep his favour for eighteen years. Marie de' Medici her- 

122 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

self , who had turned against her protege, was unable to 
shake her son's confidence in him: when the quarrel be- 
came too bitter, it was the King's mother who was forced 
into lifelong exile. The young Queen, Anne of Austria, and 
the King's brother, Graston of Orleans, were humbled and 
made powerless. As for the great nobles who rose against 
Richelieu, exile, imprisonment and death were their re- 
ward: Montmorency, "first baron of the realm," went to 
the scaffold. The contemporaries, knowing the King's 
original aversion for Richelieu, and noting that he had 
become wax in his minister's hand, could account for the 
change only through some kind of magic. If only the 
spell could be broken, the King would be himself again! 
But the spell lasted as long as the Cardinal lived. Once 
only did it look as though the Minister's power were 
shaken and already his many enemies were rejoicing: but 
the King once more rallied to Richelieu's support, and the 
episode remains known as "the Day of Dupes" (Nov. 10, 


Historians, romancers, dramatists, have long taken it 
for granted that Louis XIII, known to be timid, even 
morose in his manners, was weak of mind and weak of 
will. His constant support of his great minister admits 
of a more natural explanation. Weaklings are capri- 
cious, and may be violent in their caprices : Charles IX 
ordered the massacre on the night of St. Bartholomew. 
After all, the King was the King, and heard it repeated 
on every side. Richelieu, a son of the lower nobility, had 
no formidable faction in the State to shield him from 
disaster. A prince of the Church could not have been 
shot as unceremoniously as a Florentine adventurer like 
Concini: but, had the King given a nod, there would have 
been no lack of great lords ready to arrest the Cardinal, 
and lead him to Vincennes or to the Bastille. Not to give 
that nod required on the part of the King constant vigi- 
lance and energy. His voluntary servitude was a triumph 
of the will. Louis XIII must have understood Richelieu. 
He placed the interest of the monarchy above his own 
pride ; and his handsome, melancholy figure, half -effaced 

The Restoration of Authority 123 

in the background of his own reign, acquires thereby a 
strange and somber nobility. 

Richelieu, at the beginning of his ministry, expounded 
his plans to Louis XIII; and, at the close, he summed 
them up in his Political Testament. The impression was 
created that, in the words of Mignet, this man "never did 
anything but what he intended to do." If this were the 
case, he would be unique in history. On closer inquiry, 
the claim appears palpably exaggerated. Richelieu, al- 
though not a born opportunist like Henry IV, was fre- 
quently compelled to compromise. He was no revolu- 
tionist : he respected the traditions of ancient France. He 
had no thought of suppressing at once, if ever, all the 
privileges and abuses that hampered the exercise of royal 
authority. He paved the way for Napoleon: but he was 
no Napoleon. Yet, though he had no radical doctrine in 
mind, and though he had to feel his way in the accom- 
plishment of his purpose, the purpose was unmistakable: 
to make the King's power absolute in France and supreme 
in Europe. The policy of Richelieu is not a system: it 
is a tendency ; but it is a tendency with the intensity of a 

And it was served by an energy which grew more ruth- 
less at every step. We must guard against the legends 
that cumber history : but they are seldom without founda- 
tion, and our duty is to account for them, not merely to 
explain them away. It was not Alfred de Vigny (in 
Cinq-Mars) or Victor Hugo (in Marion Delorme) who 
invented the redoubtable character of the red robed ty- 
rant, served by such instruments as Laffemas and Lau- 
bardemont. Richelieu himself fearlessly proclaimed that 
clemency was a weakness, and that weakness was a crime. 
He was not cruel : he was too great to find pleasure in the 
sufferings of others. But the sentiments, the rights, the 
liberty, the life of his victims counted for nothing in his 
eyes when la liaison d'Etat, the "reason of state," had 
spoken. He gave currency to that sinister phrase: place 
Richelieu's Raison d'Etat at the service of Rousseau's So- 
cial Contract, and the result will be Robespierre. 

124 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

No contrast could be more striking than that between 
those two great servants of the same cause, Henry IV and 
Richelieu. The first wanted to be loved ; the second, to 
be feared. A difference in temperament, no doubt, and, 
at the bottom, perhaps a mere physiological difference: 
for, in spite of premature infirmities, Henry IV knew the 
joy of animal well-being; whilst, in spite of his command- 
ing presence, Richelieu was constantly fighting for health. 
A difference in the times of their activities: Henry IV 
was compelled by the weakness of his original position to 
use persuasion as well as force; his work was not wholly 
undone after his death, and the minister of his son could 
speak more imperiously. Perhaps it was, most of all, a 
difference in stations. For Richelieu, of comparatively 
modest origin, a son of the provincial nobility allied with 
the bourgeoisie, the State, far above the great lords, was 
a sort of formidable idol, to be served by methods of 
terror. For Henry IV, and for lesser men like Francis I 
and Louis XIV, the State was no Leviathan, but some- 
thing accessible and personal, their own domain, their 
family, themselves, and therefore something more hu- 
man. Few hereditary kings are as ruthless as usurpers 
and ministers. The beautiful fiction that the King was 
the father of his people had its saving grace, and that 
grace could not be imparted to Armand de Richelieu. 


The policy of Richelieu can not be more adequately 
summed up than in his own terms, which every child in 
France learns by heart like a magic formula : to suppress 
the political privileges of the Protestants, to reduce the 
nobles to strict obedience, to humble the House of Austria. 
In the first of these aims he was unqualifiedly successful. 
The situation created by the Edict of Nantes was a pro- 
visional compromise, and Henry IV himself considered it 
only as such. It was inconceivable that, in a unitary 
state, a portion of the population should have its own 
fortresses, its own army, its own diplomacy, with the pos- 

The Restoration of Authority 125 

sibility of using them all against the national sovereign. 
The combination of sectarian autonomy with feudal am- 
bitions and lawlessness, which had nearly destroyed 
France, could appear again; and it did reappear with 
such a leader as the Duke of Rohan. The situation, toler- 
able under Henry IV, thanks to his moderation and to 
his personal prestige, had been made worse by the weak- 
ness and violence of his successors. The feeble and abor- 
tive campaign of De Luynes against the Protestant 
stronghold of Montauban had exasperated and embold- 
ened the Huguenots. Richelieu addressed himself to the 
task with his incomparable determination. The obduracy 
of the defenders of La Rochelle found its match in the 
relentlessness of the besiegers (1627-28). The heroic 
little city, the sea capital of the Huguenot Common- 
wealth, was starved into surrender; the mountain fast- 
nesses of the Cevennes were subjugated; Rohan went into 
exile; Montauban, the chief inland fortress, was over- 
awed, and the rebellion was ended, at Alais in 1629, not 
by a negotiated peace, but by an Edict of Grace. 

Richelieu, Cardinal though he was, hardly seems an 
ecclesiastical character at all ; cuirass and helmet seem to 
fit his haughty mien better than a cassock ; yet he was a 
sincere, an ardent Catholic, and heresy to him was an 
abomination. But he respected the work of Henry the 
Great ; he wanted immediate peace in the realm ; his for- 
eign policy made him the enemy of the great Catholic 
powers, Spain and Austria, and therefore the natural 
ally of the Protestants. So he used moderation. The 
Edict of Nantes, in all its religious and civil stipulations, 
was confirmed ; and the Cardinal could faithfully promise 
to the Huguenots that "now they had submitted to the 
common rule of all subjects, whose safety could depend 
only on the graciousness and good faith of their prince, 
His Majesty would be pleased to assure them that, as 
subjects, he made no difference between them and the 
Catholics." Richelieu kept his word. The ruin of the 
Protestants as an armed power was followed by no per- 
secution, by no abridgment of their rights. Huguenots 

1&6 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

were employed by the State; Rohan, three years after 
Alais, was In command of a royal army ; even Guiton, the 
Mayor of La Rochelle and the sotil of its defence, became 
a naval officer in the Cardinal's service. 

The subjugation of the great could not thus be 
achieved in a single campaign. Richelieu, as we have 
seen, repressed without pity all conspiracies directed 
against him, whether the culprit be "the first baron in the 
land," Montmorency, or a mere upstart, a boyish favour- 
ite of the king, like Cinq-Mars. He enforced with his 
customary rigour the edict against duelling an evil 
which Henry IV himself had sought in vain to abate. 
Bouteville, another Montmorency, who had openly defied 
the law, was executed. In this warfare on one of the most 
cherished traditions of the nobility, Richelieu was not 
wholly successful: duelling survives in attenuated form 
to the present day ; but he asserted his authority. It was 
at least a symbolical gesture : the nobles knew their mas- 
ter. Symbolical also was his order that all fortified cas- 
tles not on the frontier should be dismantled. The loss 
in picturesqueness was great ; and it was doubtful whether 
a medieval fortress could have long resisted the king's 
ordnance. But the peasants everywhere heartily joined 
in the leveling work: the proudest crown was torn from 
feudalism; it was a foretaste of the fall of the Bastille. 
Some of the highest positions In the State, traditionally 
reserved to the greatest of the nobles, and which conferred 
excessive prestige on their incumbents, were done away 
with. The Grand Constable, permanent head of the 
army, thus disappeared; the Grand Admiral was also 
suppressed, the duties of his charge being assumed by 
Richelieu himself under a new title. 

One of the chief dangers he had to guard against was 
the power of the provincial governors. These, belonging 
to the highest nobility, constantly aspired to hereditary 
tenure and semi-independence. The long-delayed, reluc- 
tant and costly submission of Mercoeur in Brittany, the 
rebellion of Montmorency in Languedoc, were only out- 
standing examples of this peril. Richelieu took care to 

The Restoration of Authority 127 

shift the governors about, so that they would not take 
root in their provinces, and so that the King's supremacy 
should be unchallenged. In order further to reduce the 
Governors 5 power, he sent into the provinces administra- 
tors or Intendants, middle class officials entirely in his 
devotion, and responsible to himself alone, and he gave 
them very extensive attributions. Ultimately, this insti- 
tution was to transform France altogether from a semi- 
feudal kingdom into a centralized bureaucracy: the pre- 
fects of Napoleon are the heirs of the Intendants. Here 
again, however, Richelieu was no radical. He did not 
invent this method, which had been used occasionally by 
Henry IV and even by Francis I ; and he did not apply 
it constantly and universally. His Intendants were fre- 
quently akin to the Missi Dominici of Charlemagne: royal 
inspectors on temporary missions, rather than executive 
officials in permanent residence. This much may be safely 
asserted: that the institution made decisive progress 
under him. 

The struggle with the House of Austria was not car- 
ried to a triumphant close under Richelieu himself. He 
had at first to be content with indirect intervention in the 
Thirty Years War: Gustavus-Adolphus was supported 
by his subsidies. When France herself joined the fray, 
she was not immediately successful: in 1636, the Span- 
iards advanced as far as Corbie in Picardy, and the cap- 
ital was in a panic. It was not until after the Cardinal's 
death that the French won their first decisive victory, at 
Rocroy (1643), against the renowned veterans of Castile. 
The downfall of Spain, the helplessness of the Empire, 
were due to internal causes rather than to the blow dealt 
by the French armies. Still, the policy of the Cardinal, 
continued by Mazarin, is invariably credited with the 
triumph that was sealed in 1648 by the treaties of West- 
phalia. It was he who made the supremacy of Louis XIV 
in Europe a possibility ; and even to-day, the diplomacy 
of Richelieu remains a prestigious and perilous model for 
those statesmen who, like G. Hanotaux, know a great deal 
too much history. 

128 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

This is the tale of the Cardinal's successes : it is impres- 
sive. The story of his failures is hardly less striking. 
His magnificent game on the chessboard of Europe was 
expensive, and he was no financier. He was very fond of 
prodigal display in his own household, and he was royally 
lavish in the service of His Majesty. He was too con- 
servative, and too much engrossed with other problems, 
boldly to tackle the essential evils of the ancient regime: 
absurd privileges in taxation, faulty methods of collec- 
tion, absence of a definite budget. He was ignorant in 
economic matters; and because he signed grandiose char- 
ters for trading companies, conceding the exploitation of 
a continent to a few men without experience and without 
capital, he thought he had done enough for the prosperity 
of France. As a matter of fact, this glorious minister 
was in constant financial distress ; and although the mid- 
dle class suffered, the burden fell most heavily upon the 
common people. The Cardinal, ruthless with the great, 
was not tender with the poor. There were repeated in- 
surrections, due, not to disloyalty, but to sheer despair ; 
and they were repressed, as the rebellions of the nobles 
had been, with the usual iron hand. If the comparatively 
short and superficial crisis of the Fronde left France ut- 
terly ruined, it was because the country, at the death of 
Richelieu, was already nearing exhaustion. The glory 
and order that Richelieu brought to the kingdom were 
dearly purchased; and the verdict of the French might 
well be an endorsement of Corneille's homely verse: 

Qu'on park mal oil bien du f ameux Cardinal, 
Ma prose ni mes vers n'en diront jamais rien. 
II m'a fait trop de bien pour en dire du mal 9 
II m'a fait trop de mal pour en dire du bien. 

Louis XIII survived his minister by a few months only 
(December 4, 1642-May 14, 1643) . Once more a minor- 
ity, once more a regency, with an untrained foreign queen 
in control. But Anne of Austria, the mother of Louis 

The Restoration of Authority 129 

XIV, "hated work and loved Mazarin" ; and that Italian 
adventurer, soldier, diplomatist and cardinal, ruled 
France for eighteen years. 

The first open revolt against him was led by the magis- 
trates of the Parliament of Paris, supported by the popu- 
lace; it lasted only from 1648 to 1649. But the nobles 
had been drawn into the conflict, and their old unruly 
spirit flared up again. Of the many disturbances which 
had afflicted France, this, known as the Fronde, was the 
most chaotic. The leaders had no guiding principle : they 
detested Mazarin, and they were not wrong in condemning 
his corrupt and expensive rule; but they had no substi- 
tute to offer. So we find them changing side according to 
the caprices of fortune and the whim of their ambition. 
Now Conde, the victor of Rocroy, was with the crown, 
and now he was allied with Spain; and it so happened 
that his great rival Turenne, shifting also, was generally 
on. the other side. An element of romance made the con- 
flict even more erratic: noble ladies, Madame de Chev- 
reuse, Madame de Longueville, Mademoiselle de Mont- 
pensier, cast themselves into heroic parts, and were blindly 
followed hither and thither by their adorers. Victor 
Cousin, the eclectic philosopher, two centuries later, fell 
in love with them collectively, and devoted to these charm- 
ing rebels a series of fascinating biographical studies. 
To make confusion worse confounded, a born agitator, 
Paul de Gondi, Bishop Coadjutor of Paris, was con- 
stantly brewing mischief. With incomparable verve and 
a genius for intrigue, he plotted indef atigably for a vari- 
ety of purposes : to oust Mazarin and succeed him ; to be 
confirmed as Bishop of Paris; to secure the Cardinal's 
hat, as he finally did under the name of Cardinal de Retz. 
His Memoirs are among the most vivid productions of 
the classical age : but they fully confirm the verdict of his 
time as to his political incapacity. 

The whole affair lasted five years (1648-1653), and 
was called the Fronde (the Sling) in derision, as though 
it had been a game for children. But France lay in ruins. 
Mazarin, supple, diplomatic, as humble in his demeanour 

130 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

as Richelieu had been haughty, yielding to the storm, 
kept out of sight and out of danger. But he had not 
relaxed his hold on the Regent. He did not conquer his 
enemies : he allowed them to wear themselves out. He rep- 
resented, however unworthily, the monarchical principle, 
that is to say national interest, order, internal peace. So 
this man, who had been so bitterly hated and so justly 
despised, finally returned in triumph. To his death, he 
displayed his power and his semi-regal state as insolently 
as Richelieu. He had amassed, in the distress of the 
country, a fabulous, a scandalous fortune. A deplorable 
administrator, but a great diplomatist, he was largely 
responsible for the treaties of Westphalia (1648) and the 
Peace of the Pyrenees (1659). In 1661, he left France 
to Louis XIV, with the nobility thoroughly tamed, and 
even servile; the Parliaments hopelessly discredited; the 
people putting their whole trust in a strong royal gov- 
ernment; and the French monarchy without a peer in 
Europe. That such a consummation should have come 
through a Mazarin is one of History's most exquisite 



I. The Classical Compromise: authority, tradition, reason. 
The sixteenth century an age of literary confusion: "At last came 
Malherbe !" Guez de Balzac Vaugelas The Three Unities in 
the Drama. 

II. Restoration of Urbanity in Society. The Hotel de Eam- 
bouillet Woman Triumphant Mademoiselle de Scudery: the 
"Map of Tenderness"; excesses of "Preciosity." 

III. The Academy. Richelieu Membership Programme 
The Dictionary Sentiments on the Cid Chapelain. 

IV. The first half of the seventeenth century not tame Sur- 
vivors of the Renaissance: d'Aubigne Independents: Regnier^ 
Cyrano, Theophile and the "Libertines" The Romantic influ- 
ence of Spain The Burlesque School: Scarron Worship of 
will power, conscious heroism, glory. 

V. Rationalism. From Montaigne to Descartes Descartes 
as a representative of the "classical compromise" : his Provisional 
Code. His essential thought: disregard of tradition; radicalism. 

FROM the accession of Henry IV to the death of 
Mazarin, we have noted the constant craving for 
national order. The lawlessness of the religious fac- 
tions on both sides, the irresponsible selfishness of the 
nobles, even the usurpation of political power by the Par- 
liament, had repeatedly brought disaster upon the king- 
dom. Authority must prevail: firm, but smiling and 
persuasive with Henry IV, somber and pitiless with Riche- 
lieu ; even a Mazarin was in the end universally accepted 
and obeyed, because he stood for the sole permanent au- 
thority, that of the King. 

But, great as was this craving for order, it did not lead 
to sudden and abject submission. Order, in medieval and 
Renaissance France, had been an aspiration rather than 


The Life and Death of an Ideal 

a possession: so the worship of order was perhaps less 
fanatical than in our own days, when we have enjoyed it 
for so long that we know what we have to lose. The theo- 
retical absolutism of the Kings, until 1661, was not of the 
dictatorial nature which we find in many governments of 
post-war Europe. Authority did not rest solely on tra- 
dition: the idea of pure legitimacy had been obscured 
during the years when the hereditary claimant to the 
throne was rejected by the majority of the people. 
Neither could it be based exclusively on force: to make 
force the supreme arbiter was to invite civil war. The 
authority that the French desired had to harmonize all 
these elements ; in order to be irresistible, it must have on 
its side tradition, power and reason. Henry IV was the 
perfect embodiment of this ideal: legitimacy, persuasion, 
and "le Mton qui forte paix>" the big stick. Even after 
1661, French absolutism was not the result of supersti- 
tious reverence for the past, and still less the child of 
servile fear: it was felt to be, above all, practical and rea- 

Now, exactly the same process was taking place in 
literature and society. The monarchical spirit and the 
classical spirit are the fruit of the same compromise ; both 
reached their point of maturity with the personal rule of 
Louis XIV. We have traced the development of the 
former from 1589 to 1661 : we shall now consider the lat- 
ter during the same period. 

The literature of the French Renaissance leaves with 
the reader a sense of splendid confusion. Rabelais had 
matchless vitality: but he never was able completely to 
fuse his own personality, his medieval heritage, and his 
enormous new learning. The poets of the Pleiad had 
what Rabelais lacked: a definite sense of beauty; but it 
was too often obscured by their antiquarian pedantry, or 
by their unbalanced ambition. Montaigne, at the end of 
the period, had learnt modesty : but his wisdom was only 
the smiling acceptance of chaos ; it created an impression 
of laxity, and even of fatigue, 

Enfin Malherbe vint! The desire for reasonable dis- 

The Restoration of Order 133 

cipline found its incarnation in this petty gentleman from 
Normandy, and Boileau was not wrong in hailing him as 
the true founder of modern Classicism. There is little in 
Malherbe that is attractive. His private life was as im- 
moral as that of Henry IV: but in addition he was pe- 
dantic and surly. As a poet, he lacked facility and imag- 
ination: he left a thin volume of verse, and many of his 
pieces were written to order. He is chiefly famous for a 
Consolation to Du Perier on his Daughter's Death, which 
reached the father years after his bereavement, and com- 
forted Mm with the thought that, great or lowly, we are 
all doomed to die. Yet, with this scant equipment, Mal- 
herbe won the day. He won it because the Pleiad had 
already lost it. In condemning Ronsard he was kicking 
a dead lion. Nor were Ronsard's disciples better able to 
hold their own. Tasso and Goethe admired du Bartas, 
the author of an epic on Creation, The Week: but no 
French critic has ever taken his confused grandeur, or 
grandiosity, very seriously. Agrippa d'Aubigne, the 
Huguenot, was a belated representative of the Renais- 
sance, when he brought out, in 1616, his Tr agios, a pas- 
sionate, lyrical and satirical epic of the Religious Wars : 
d'Aubigne was ignored for two centuries, and even today, 
is barely mentioned in text books which devote a whole 
chapter to Malherbe. Mathurin Regnier, the satirist, 
with all his verve and picturesqueness, could not prevail 
against "the tyrant of words and syllables. 5 * The days 
of flamboyant fancy were over. Common sense was king, 
and caprice was sedition. 

The success of Malherbe makes it clear that neo-clas- 
sicism was not identical with humanism. The ancients 
never ceased to be revered : but French literature had be- 
come autonomous. Malherbe put an end to the attempt 
at enriching the language from above and from without. 
His norm was usage, not learning. He went so far as to 
say : the usage of the porters on the Hay Wharf in Paris. 
The scholars had gone too far; the speech of the Court 
was spoilt by Italian and Gascon influences ; it was salu- 
tary then for literature, not to "go to the people" Mai- 

134 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

herbe was not such a democrat! but to draw from the 
people. Poetry should not be esoteric, but natural and 
national. This implied no lowering of standards: Mai- 
herbe taught the value of hard work and discipline, even 
in the use of the plainest language. These virtues, moral 
rather than poetic, served him well : with his modicum of 
talent, he conquered authority, and lasting fame. He 
handled nothing but commonplaces, and did nothing to 
conceal their obviousness : but, a few times in his career, 
he gave them a plenitude, an infallible adequacy of ex- 
pression, which are quietly and indestructibly supreme. 
France still repeats : 

Elle etait de ce monde oil les plus belles choses 

Ont le pire destin; 
Etj rose, elle a vecu ce que vivent les roses, 

I/espace d'un matin. 1 

What Malherbe did for French versification, Guez de 
Balzac achieved a little later for French prose. He too 
had very little to say, and said it in faultless form. His 
treatises, The Prince, The Christian Socrates, and his 
letters, may often seem pompously inane. But his sen- 
tences form a stately procession, not, like Rabelais, a 
joyous riot, or like Montaigne's, a capricious and lazy 
sauntering. His style is oratorical, Ciceronian in the very 
worst sense of the term; but it is French, not Latin, in 
vocabulary and construction. He was the professor of 
rhetoric of a generation which produced and enjoyed 

With these two stylists is linked the grammarian, Vau- 
gelas. He likewise sought order, clearness, dignity ; and 
he sought them, not in borrowings from antiquity, not in 
abstract rules, but in the harmony of usage and common 
sense. His Remarks on the French Language acquired 
such authority that "parler Vaugelas" was synonymous 
with "parler correctement" 

1 It was not merely an affectation that prompted Paul Valery to use 
Malherbian forms for some of his most abstruse poems. Subtle and 
condensed as he is, Valry is an intellectualist, a rationalist, and there- 
fore a distant heir of Malherbe and Boileau. 

The Restoration of Order 135 

The same battle was fought, and won by the same side, 
in the dramatic field. The medieval drama had disap- 
peared: the performance of the Mysteries and Miracles 
had actually been prohibited by law in 1548 ; it was feared 
that their free and rather crude realism might be a canse 
of scandal at a time of bitter religious division. The 
tragedies inspired by the doctrines of the Pleiad, like 
Jodelle's Cleopatra, were lifeless pastiches of Seneca's 
rhetorical plays. The tragi-comedy, frequently imported 
from Spain, was full of extravagance. The cultured 
public was sighing for simplicity, reasonableness, or- 
der. For these, the so-called Aristotelian rules seemed 
to provide the needed foundation. Mairet's Sophonisba, 
in 1634, was the first regular tragedy. In 1636-37, the 
dazzling triumph of Corneille's Cid was the occasion of a 
complex literary quarrel, in which the question of the 
three unities was the most definite element. It is obvious 
that this epic drama, still very close to its Spanish origins, 
could hardly be compressed within the limits of a single 
place and a single day. The public had hailed the play 
with enthusiasm, and it seemed as though CorneiHe could 
have made a victorious plea for greater freedom. But 
even a masterpiece, and a popular masterpiece at that, 
can not change the trend of evolution. Corneille felt it, 
and did not dare to challenge the new discipline. He 
argued, with the subtlety of a pettifogging Norman law- 
yer, that his play was regular "within the meaning of the 
act"; that the action took place in a single city; that 
Rodrigue's betrothal, his first duel, his impromptu victory 
over the Moors, his second duel, and his reconciliation 
with the fiancee whose father he had just killed, did not 
occupy, if you counted carefully, much more than twenty- 
four hours. This lame defence was an acknowledgment 
of the rules. Henceforth, Corneille applied them meticu- 
lously, although not without a visible effort. To Racine, 
they were nature itself; and it took the Romantic revolt 
to dislodge them partly from the French stage. 

There are moments when rules are resented, and mo- 
ments when they are welcome, simply because they are 

136 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

rules. The French wanted, in literature as in politics, 
neither tyranny nor lawlessness, but liberty under law: 
obedience to reason is perfect freedom. Here again, the 
worship of the past played only a subordinate part. It 
was not the humanistic superstition, the Ipse dixit of an- 
tiquity, that moved Corneille : it was common sense. The 
fact that Aristotle and modern common sense were in 
agreement was reassuring; if they had differed, which 
would Corneille have followed? He told us unequivocally 
in his Discourse on the Three Unities: "Many protest 
against this rule which they call a tyrannical one; and 
they would be right, if it were founded only upon Aris- 
totle's authority; it is the natural reason upon which it 
is based that compels our acceptance." Even Abbe 
d'Aubignac, most pedantic of hidebound classical critics, 
professed the supremacy of natural judgment. We see 
in Corneille's case the definite establishment of that "cul- 
tural bimetallism" which is so characteristic of the clas- 
sical age at its point of perfection. Authority reposes 
upon two standards : tradition and reason. Between the 
two, there is an unchangeable relation: not "sixteen to 
one," as in W. J. Bryan's bimetallism, but absolute par- 
ity. So there is no conflict, and both are equally valid. 
If, however, conflict were possible & sacrilegious hy- 
pothesis ! then reason must prevail. 


The call for decency and order was felt in polite so- 
ciety also. The Valois Court had been a model of elegant 
corruption: through the wars, elegance was ruined, but 
corruption was not cured. The needed reform did not 
originate with the King: the social leadership of the royal 
circle went through a long eclipse. Henry IV, with all 
his endearing qualities, retained on the throne the man- 
ners of a Gascon captain ; the tone of his conversation and 
of his letters is frequently that of the barrack-room. He 
practiced polygamy without the cloak of stateliness that 
Louis XIV managed to throw over his vices. Louis XIII 

The Restoration of Order 137 

was taciturn; Richelieu was too formidable a figure to 
take the lead in social entertainment. So the scepter was 
picked up, and held for nearly half a century, by a pri- 
vate person, the Marquise de Rambouillet. 

Catherine de Vivonne, who, at the age of twelve (1600) 
had married the Marquis de Rambouillet, was much in- 
fluenced by Italy. Her mother was connected with the 
greatest Italian families, her father had been Ambassador 
at Rome, and she spoke Italian as fluently as French. 
Italy, although already in decadence, had a much longer 
and stronger tradition of social refinement than France. 
The young Marquise found the court of good King 
Henry insufferably coarse. She excused herself from at- 
tendance as much as she could, and, by 1613, she had 
already established her own salon. In 1618, she had her 
Paris residence rebuilt on her own plans, and her room, 
the famous Blue Room of Arthenice (anagram of Cathe- 
rine) became the very center of refined society and litera- 
ture. Malherbe would tone down his gruffness for her 
benefit, and, as long as he lived, remained the official poet 
of the Hotel de Rambouillet. Racan, Balzac, Vaugelas, 
Chapelain, were among the literary lights. There, almost 
for the first time, poets and nobles met on a footing of 
social equality an equality somewhat conventional and 
precarious, but none the less welcome. Voiture, the great 
favourite, the recognized "little king' 5 (rey chiquito) of 
this select circle, was the son of a rich wine merchant. 
And especially, it was at the Hotel de Rambouillet that 
women, or rather ladies, resumed the direction of literary 
taste. On the whole, sixteenth century literature was es- 
sentially masculine, in Montaigne as well as in Rabelais 
and we might add in the Heptameron of Marguerite 
of Navarre. Henceforth, even philosophy will have to be 
made intelligible to the queens of society: their absolute 
rule ended only with the Revolution. 

Without undue gallantry, it may be said that their in- 
fluence, on the whole, was salutary. Madame de Ram- 
bouillet and the other great ladies of the time had no less 
common sense, and far more delicacy, than the average 

138 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

man of their class. Madame de Sevigne, for instance* 
was vastly superior in seriousness, as well as in charm and 
virtue, to her clever and wicked cousin Bussy-Rabutin. 
The "monstrous regiment of women*" in French litera- 
ture, caused very little loss in profundity; there was a 
very definite gain in clearness, in urbanity, in freedom, 
from pedantry. 

The heyday of the Hotel was from 1630 to the out- 
break of the Fronde. Then the greatest, both in society 
and in literature, considered it a supreme honour to be 
received by the incomparable Arthenice. La Rochefou- 
cauld, St. Evremond, were *among those present 9 ; Cor- 
neille, awkward and tongue-tied in company, appeared in 
the Blue Room. He even read to Madame de Rambouillet 
and her guests his Polyeucte, which, by the way, was icily 
received. It is said that Bossuet, an infant prodigy, was 
asked to deliver a sermon at 11 o'clock in the evening: so 
that the official wag of the group, Voiture, could com- 
ment that "he had never heard any one preach so early, 
nor so late." 

The crisis of the Fronde dealt the Hotel a severe blow. 
The Marquise was ageing, although she preserved far 
beyond middle life her majestic beauty. Julie, her eldest 
daughter and chief helpmeet, had, after interminable de- 
lays, "rewarded the flame" of her patient suitor Mon- 
tausier; Voiture, the incomparable organizer of cultured 
pastime, died in 1648. Already Mademoiselle de Scudery 
had become a rival to be reckoned with. The Marquise 
died in 1665 : Louis XIV was to be her true successor. 

Even with the great Marquise and with her daughter 
Julie, the dangers of excessive refinement could be felt. 
The exquisite nothings of Voiture were overpraised. So- 
ciety fought earnestly about the respective merits of two 
sonnets, Urania, by Voiture, and Job, by Benserade, with- 
out realizing that both were elaborately vapid. Purism 
was creating a new pedantry, hardly less offensive for 
being fashionably scented. These evils ran to an extreme 
in the group of Mademoiselle de Scudery. It was she 
who concocted those ten-volume society romances, Great 

The Restoration of Order 139 

Cyrus> Clelia, in which all the notables of the set were 
depicted in historical or allegorical garb. It was she also 
who devised the clever map of the Country of Tenderness, 
wherein, through a series of symbolical villages, you 
might progress from New-Friendship either to Tender- 
ness-on-Inclination, or to Tenderness-on-Respect, unless, 
missing your way, you fell into the Lake of Indifference 
or the Sea of Enmity. To this mixture of sentimental 
subtlety, affectation in style and excessive purism in vo- 
cabulary the term Preciosity was attached, and Moliere 
did yeoman's work when, at the very outset of his Parisian 
career, he laughed Les Precieuses Ridicules into lasting 
disrepute. Still, there was in the classical age a blend of 
delicacy and dignity which would hardly have come into 
existence without the Precieuses. Madame de Lafayette 
and Madame de Sevigne were among them: this alone 
justifies them in the eyes of posterity. 


About I629 5 a number of gentlemen were in the habit 
of jjathering to discuss, informally, some question of lan- 
guage or literature. They agreed to meet at the home 
of one of them, Conrart, because of its central location. 

The freedom and privacy of these reunions were among 
their chief attractions. So the members of the group 
were none too well pleased when, in 1634, Richelieu sug- 
gested that they should form themselves into an Academy, 
under his exalted protection. The Cardinal's desire was 
law, and the Academy, with the unassuming name of 
Academie Franpaise, came into being. It received its let- 
ters patent from the King in 1635. Through the absurd 
fear that the new body might turn into a rival, the Parlia- 
ment refused to register these letters until 1637. 

The Academy was composed at first of modest gentle- 
men belonging to the middle class or the lower nobility. 
But, long before the end of the ancient regime, prelates, 
great lords and even princes considered it an honour to 
be admitted to membership. Even in our democratic 

140 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

days, the Academy would not be complete without a 
sprinkling of dukes, bishops, marshals, ambassadors, great 
lawyers and conservative statesmen. It is an epitome of 
good society, the most exclusive of clubs, the last refuge 
of polite conversation, a permanent and better organized 
Hotel de Rambouillet. But ladies, who rule the Salons, 
are barred out of the Academy. They have taken their 
revenge by making Academicians, since they could not 
be Academicians themselves. Academic electioneering has 
been a favourite sport with Paris hostesses, at least from 
the days of Madame de Lambert in the early eighteenth 
century to the days of Madame de Caillavet in the late 

Not all the original members were writers. Conrart, in 
a sense the true founder of the Academy, for he was its 
first host and its first secretary, published nothing : he is 
perhaps the only man who ever won a place in literary 
history on the strength of his obstinate and prudent 
silence, held up as an example by Boileau. The term 
"Immortals," which came early into use, was not meant 
ironically: but neither was it of much consequence. It 
was a commonplace that poets distributed immortality 
with a very liberal hand, and without forgetting them- 
selves. The jibe of Rostand in Cyrano de Bergerac was 
true even under Richelieu, and remains true to-day : 

Porcheres, Colomby, Bourseys, ~Bourdon, Arbaud: 
Tons ces noms dont pas un ne mourra, que c'est beau! 

The purpose of the French Academy never was pri- 
marily to reward literary excellence. Genius does very 
well without academic honours: in the seventeenth cen- 
tury, Pascal and Moliere, in the eighteenth Rousseau and 
Diderot, in the nineteenth Balzac and Michelet, occupied 
the mythical "forty-first armchair," which is the French 
way of saying that they never were Academicians at all. 
The Academy is meant to represent, in the realm of lan- 
guage and literature, that authority based upon tradition 
and reason, which we find in every other manifestation of 

The Restoration of Order 141 

the classical age. Genius achieves authority, but, in do- 
ing so, ignores tradition and reason or rather it creates 
a tradition and a reason of its own. 

The Academy was expected to act in a legislative and 
judicial capacity. On its programme were a historical 
dictionary of literary usage, a standard grammar, au- 
thoritative treatises on rhetoric and poetics. It was also 
planned that words should be divided into castes those 
reserved for the sublime or lofty style, those belonging to 
the undistinguished or mediocre^ and those to be branded 
as low. None of these schemes matured. All that the Acad- 
emy managed to do was to compose a Dictionary of current 
usage. Vaugelas had been the soul of the undertaking: 
after his death in 1650, the work dragged on intermina- 
bly, and the first edition did not appear until 1694. Both 
Furetiere and Richelet had stolen a march on the slow 
moving Academicians : one determined specialist, as Littre 
was to show again in the nineteenth century, can outstrip 
a club of forty amateurs. 

In its critical or judicial function, the Academy was 
even less fortunate. The first task that was imposed upon 
it by Richelieu was an examination of Corneille's Cid. 
There is little doubt that the imperious minister wanted 
the play to be formally condemned; and when he ap- 
pointed special courts or commissions to judge his ene- 
mies, the fate of these was sealed in advance. The Acad- 
emy, which he had captured, but not created, showed 
more independence. The Sentiments or Opinions on the 
Cid, which it finally published, kept a pretty fair balance 
between the enthusiasm of the public, the scruples of the 
theorists, and the curious hostility of the Cardinal. To 
Richelieu's praise be it said that he did not suppress the 
play, as he might so easily have done : Napoleon, in simi- 
lar cases, did not hesitate. But Richelieu had a decent 
regard for the opinion of mankind, and, in a literary 
quarrel, used only literary weapons. Although the com- 
promise arrived at was honorable for all parties, the task 
had not been a congenial one; and, from that time, the 
Academy refrained from expressing its official and col- 

The Life and Death of an Ideal 

lective opinion in matters of literature, except through 
the awarding of innocuous prizes. 

The man who had drawn up the Sentiments for the 
Academy and for Richelieu was Chapelain, who, for 
many years, was an informal Secretary of State for Lit- 
erature. He had conquered authority chiefly through his 
virtues of common sense, kindness and dependability, vir- 
tues to which his critic Boileau paid unstinted tribute. 
He strengthened his claims with a vast epic on Joan of 
Arc, La Pucelle, an ill-fated title, for Voltaire also was 
to make it a by-word. For some twenty years, Chapelain 
was "about to publish" his Pucelle: when it came out at 
last, its leaden weight dragged the poet into oblivion. 
He is chiefly remembered at present as Boileau's victim: 
he should perhaps be known rather as Boileau's predeces- 
sor and prototype, not exactly the Dictator of Parnassus, 
but its chief police officer. In his hands was the list of 
royal pensions to be distributed among writers, with his 
own name at the head. This control of princely favours 
gave him a prestige that the satires of Boileau and even 
the overpowering tediousness of La Pucelle could not quite 


Our constant repetition of the shibboleths "authority, 
order, tradition, common sense," has inevitably produced 
an impression of tameness and even of dullness ; and this 
impression is not altogether wrong. The classical age 
proper, the Grand Century, is fundamentally bourgeois, 
and bourgeois culture tends to foster the virtue of unim- 
peachable moderation which, in our own days, is so admi- 
rably exemplified in Major Henri Bordeaux. 

The leading tendency, however, does not sum up a 
whole period. It usually encounters resistances which are 
more fascinating than conformities; the tendency itself 
is an indication of the forces that it had to combat. 

The first two generations of the seventeenth century 
were finally tamed: Conde, Turenne, turned into loyal 

The Restoration of Order 143 

officers and faultless courtiers; Retz, La Rochefoucauld, 
survived their wild days by many a quiet year. But they 
were not naturally tame. So in literature : by the side of 
Malherbe, Balzac, Vaugelas, Chapelain and the Academy, 
we find a teeming mass of writers, full of verve, fancies 
and rebellions. D'Aubigne hardly belongs here: he was 
rather a younger member of the Pleiad, straggling nearly 
half a century behind. Mathurin Regnier was probably 
the most gifted, and the one whose works have best held 
their own: Boileau and Moliere were indebted to him. 
Cyrano de Bergerac, thanks to Theophile Gautier and 
especially to Edmond Rostand, is the one whose person- 
ality a nose, a plume, a rapier stands out most pic- 
turesquely. With Cyrano should be mentioned his fellow 
"libertines" in the classical sense of free-thinkers: St. 
Amand the glutton, Theophile de Viau, a true lyric poet, 
who was sentenced to death for his impiety, and whom 
Corneille preferred to Malherbe and Racan. In Precwux 
circles, common sense was not invariably victorious. The 
Marquise de Rambouillet admired il cavaliere Marini, 
whose long poem Adone was a perpetual coruscation of 
conceits. The pseudo-Arcadian sentimental romance of 
Honore d'Urfe, Astree, can hardly be called a triumph of 
classical reason; the many-tomed lucubrations of Made- 
leine de Scudery, like the poems and tragedies of her 
brother George, were full of romantic extravagance. 

The influence of Spain at that time retarded the de- 
velopment of true classicism. The political power of 
Spain was waning: but it was still impressive. In the 
cultural domain, "trade follows the flag" at times with 
a long delay: thus it was not under Louis XIV, at the 
height of her actual power, that France dominated most 
exclusively European civilization, but under Louis XV, 
when her political prestige was at its lowest ebb. The 
Spain of the period deserved to be studied: it was the 
Spain of el Siglo de Oro, the Golden Century, the age of 
Cervantes, Alarcon, Guillen de Castro, Lope, Calderon, 
and also, alas! the age of Gongora and his estilo culto. 
We need hardly point out the Spanish element in Cor- 

144 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

neille 5 and even in Moliere ; in lesser men like Rotrou, it 
was even more pronounced. It was not limited to the 
choice of subjects Le Cid, Le Menteur, don Sanche 
d'Aragon, don Juan; or to the favour enjoyed by certain 
forms, like the tragi-comedy and the cloak-and-sword 
drama; it revealed itself in a spirit of haughtiness and 
defiance, of grave punctilious courtesy, of hypersensitive 
honour, of flamboyant daring and braggadocio, which is 
very far from classic reasonableness. 

Then there was the ransom to be paid for the excesses 
of preciosity: the counter-excesses in the form of bur- 
lesque and coarse realism. The craze for the burlesque 
became a veritable disease, especially at the time of the 
Fronde, that burlesque epic. Its greatest exponent was 
Scarron, the first husband of Franpoise d'Aubigne who, as 
Madame de Maintenon, became the morganatic queen of 
Louis XIV. That predecessor of the Grand Monarch 
was a cripple, indomitably laughing away poverty and 
disease. He travestied the Mneid? wrote spirited farces, 
and showed himself a master of picaresque realism in his 
story of strolling players, Le Roman Comique. 

If we examine more closely that period, we find that 
its ideal was not dull conformity, but will-power. When 
we think of Richelieu, we are not impressed by his intelli- 
gence, however vast and keen it may have been ; still less 
by his "sweet reasonableness" or by his Christian virtues. 
He was not sensible and not saintly, but heroic: and the 
will alone creates heroes. 

The grandeur of Corneille's personages has no other 
foundation. Corneille is not invariably the poet of duty, 
or even the poet of reason. He admires his own Medea, his 
Cleopatra (in Rodogune), who are criminals, hardly less 
than his Nicomede or his Polyeucte. No doubt and in 
this the classical hero differs radically from the Sturm- 
und-Drang rebel or the Byronic blasphemer the chief 
triumph of the will is found, not in vain explosions, but 
in self -conquest. Not the indulgence of passion, but the 
subordination of passion to reason, is the Cornelian ideal, 
the finest achievement of unconquerable will. "All her 

The Restoration of Order 145 

passions, said Mademoiselle de Scudery about Madame de 
Rambouillet, are subjected to her reason. 55 A little later, 
the heroine of Madame de Lafayette's novel, the Princess 
of Cleves, also sacrificed passion to reason ; and CorneHle 
repeatedly proclaimed the same message : 

Et sur mes passions ma raison souveraine. . . 

But it is not a sacrifice to a conventional, abstract or 
alien ideal: the victory over self is the liighest triumph 
of self, self-realization, and not self-effacement. It is ac- 
companied with that exulting joy that Corneille calls "la 
gloire." Better be a "glorious criminal" and what other 
term will fit Conde at certain stages of his career? than 
an inglorious conformist. But "glorious conformity, 55 
self-will in the service of a cause greater than self, that is 
perfection indeed. Such are the patriotism of Horace, 
the statesmanlike clemency of Augustus (Cinna), the 
Christian zeal of Polyeucte. And such was the ideal of 
Corneille 5 s contemporaries. The Jansenists, as we shall 
see, and Pascal the greatest of them, were Christian stoics 
without Christian humility ; heroes of the will who denied 
the freedom of the will; glorying in self -discipline and 
rejecting imposed order; and that is why they were per- 
secuted by the representatives of conformity and com- 
promise, the Jesuits and the King. 

We have so far used indiscriminately the words "com- 
mon sense 55 and "reason. 55 The distinction between the 
two is one which it has never been easy, nor even safe, to 

Montaigne's lesson if the word is not too pedagogical 
for his rambling causerles was that neither common 
sense nor reason existed in this world. Opinions once 
widely held seem ludicrous to-day ; and, as Pascal, his dis- 
ciple in many ways, was to say, a mere geographical acci- 
dent alters the validity of our views : "truth on this side 
of the Pyrenees, error on the other side. 55 If Montaigne 

146 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

is essentially "reasonable, 93 it is only in the sense of "mod- 
erate." To be sure, without confessing it, he thought 
that his own "good sense" was not quite "common" ; and 
whilst he doubted all creeds ("excepting, of course, our 
Holy Religion, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman"), and 
all philosophies, even scepticism, he believed pretty firmly 
in Michel de Montaigne. But a systematic rationalist he 
was certainly not. 

Montaigne's Pyrrhonism was the result of despair, the 
devastation left in the wake of theological and civil con- 
flict. With Charron, the intellect, still warily, resumes 
its march. Charron no longer doubts his own doubt: he 
demonstrates it. This may be an inconsistency: but it 
satisfied the age of Henry IV. In Charron's Wisdom, 
orthodoxy, scepticism and rationalism lived in good ac- 
cord, probably because not one of them was strong enough 
to put up a good fight. 

The compromise philosophy that goes with the restora- 
tion of order could not be better expressed than in the 
words of Descartes. Here are the "three or four maxims" 
of his code of morals : 

"The first was to obey the laws and customs of my 
country, adhering firmly to the faith in which, by the 
grace of God, I had been educated from my childhood, 
and regulating my conduct in every other matter accord- 
ing to the most moderate opinions, and the farthest re- 
moved from extremes, which should happen to be adopted 
in practice with general consent of the most judicious of 
those among whom I might be living." (Orthodoxy; 
moderation; conformity.) 

"My second maxim was to be as firm and resolute in 
my actions as I was able, and not to adhere less stead- 
fastly to the most doubtful opinions, when once adopted, 
than if they had been highly certain." (Consistency.) 

"My third maxim was to endeavour always to conquer 
myself rather than Fortune, and change my desires rather 
than the order of the world." (Self -discipline, modesty, 

These are the three all-sufficient commandments of the 

The Restoration of Order 147 

good citizen, and, if Descartes had observed them faith- 
fully, he might have been a model of bourgeois wisdom, 
another Conrart. 

But Descartes was not, except in sheer self-defence, the 
harmless and passive supporter of law and order that he 
professed to be. There was a touch of the adventurer in 
that mathematician who, for the fun of the thing, became 
a soldier of fortune during the Thirty Years War. So 
this code of comfortable sanity, with him, is purely pro- 
visional. When he described for HS these low levels of 
'safety in conformity, 5 he had already started thinking 
for himself dangerously. 

His point of departure was Montaigne's : no knowledge, 
Imparted from without, can be certain. Every man be- 
lieves that he Is endowed with "good sense 5 ' : this Is "hu- 
manism" In its literal sense, and with a vengeance: man 
Is the test and the measure of all things. And the first 
precept of the Cartesian Method, which sums up the 
whole of his revolution, is : "Never to accept anything for 
true which I did not clearly and evidently know to be 
such." And when can we say that we know? We know 
"what is presented to (our) mind so clearly and dis- 
tinctly as to exclude all ground of doubt." Doubt there- 
fore is not a sin, as it is in the eyes of theologians ; and 
not a luxurious end in itself, as with Montaigne : it Is an 
indispensable instrument In the testing of truth. If you 
would be a sure Fundamentalist, delve until you reach 
bed-rock ; doubt until you can doubt no more. 

And so Descartes doubts all sciences, the evidence of 
his senses, the whole external world: may not all this be 
a dream? He could, like Montaigne, doubt this or that 
particular doubt: he can not doubt the fact that he is 
doubting. He doubts, therefore he thinks; he thinks, 
therefore he is. With this axiom as a foundation, and 
with "evidence beyond the possibility of a doubt" as his 
criterion, he will reconstruct the universe. And a strange 
job he makes of it. 

There Is no poetic rapture, no eloquence, no obscurity, 
and therefore no "profundity" in the Discourse on 

148 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Method. But, in its homely garb, this philosophy is a 
unique lesson in honesty and courage. We may reach 
conclusions radically different from those of Descartes: 
but the first principle of the Method still stands. A man 
who accepts as true something which he does not know 
clearly and evidently to be such may be a poet, a theo- 
logian or a politician: but he is no scientist and no phi- 
losopher. Those who consider that first precept as a mere 
truism have not earnestly tried to apply it. 

Descartes was not the prophet, but the product, of the 
classical spirit. He came long after Malherbe, and at 
the same time as Richelieu, Corneille, the Academy. He 
"rationalized" that spirit: the supremacy of thought, the 
firm use of the will, the contempt for external nature, the 
craving for clarity and order, all this is Cartesianism, 
and it is also Classicism. 

But there is much in Cartesianism that goes beyond the 
Classical Compromise defined at the beginning of this 
chapter. Bossuet almost alone was clear-sighted enough 
to discern this. There may be compromise in the prac- 
tical code of Descartes: there is none in his inmost 
thought. It is radicalism pure and simple. In him, and 
through him, the balance between "tradition" and "rea- 
son 55 is completely ruined. For Descartes, methodical 
reason is supreme, tradition counts for naught. Aristotle 
and Plato, St. Paul and St. Augustine, the Pope, the 
King and the Parliament in unison could not make him 
accept a thing for true, unless he clearly and evidently 
knew it to be such. It is radical democracy in thought: 
not democracy in the sense of mob-rule, but democracy as 
the denial of privileges, as a challenge to vested interests 
and constituted authorities in the realm of the intellect. 
"If I write in French, 55 he says towards the end, "and not 
in Latin, it is because I expect that those who make use 
of their unprejudiced reason will be better judges of my 
opinions than those who give heed to the writings of the 
ancients only. 55 The whole Enlightenment is here in 

The implications of this little book were not clearly 

The Restoration of Order 149 

seen for at least fifty years. The Age of Louis XIV pro- 
fessed Cartesian Rationalism: but in fact it was still 
guided by the Classical Compromise. The "bimetallism" 
we have described was nominally unchanged, and even, 
until 1687, not seriously challenged: but one of its stand- 
ards was slowly losing substance. 



I. The Conception of Kingship. Perfection of Absolute 
Monarchy. Divine Right. Louis XIV's consciousness of his own 
grandeur. Pride tempered by classical moderation and common 
sense. No radical even in absolutism. Love of his function. 

II. Physical Portrait: robustness. Love of pleasure. The 
Life Enchanted: stately without stiffness. His love affairs. 
Magnificence and glory his besetting sins. 

III. Louis XIV's attitude towards the Court nobility: diffi- 
dence and generosity. Provincial nobility ignored and sacri- 
ficed. Nobility becomes frankly parasitical. 

IV. Policy with the Third Estate: privileges of provinces, 
cities, Parliaments checked but not abolished. His instruments: 
the bureaucracy, the Intendants. The great ministerial clans. 
Mediocrity of the second generation. Unity of style : magnificent 

IN 1661, on the death of Mazarin, Louis XIV took in 
his own hands the reins of government. Henceforth 
and for fifty-four years, he was to be his own prime 
minister. He was more than "the State": he was 
"France." This is the point of perfection of absolute 
monarchy; after so many false starts and relapses, the 
King and the Kingdom were at last in complete harmony. 
The contemporaries, for a whole generation, worshipped 
the Grand Monarch. The tragic eclipse during his last 
few years was not final: the Royal Sun shone again for 
posterity. In the age of Enlightenment, Voltaire the 
iconoclast forgot his irony when he wrote The Century of 
Louis XIV. For a romantic democratic historian like 
Michelet, Louis XIV had little appeal: but in our own 
days, men as different as Ernest Lavisse, Jacques Bain- 
ville, Louis Madelin and Louis Bertrand studied him with 
sympathy, with passionate interest, with reverence. There 
is a famous tripartite cartoon by Thackeray, in which we 


Louis XIV: Personality, Court, Government 151 

see first Ludovicus Rex: a reduction of Hyacinthe Ri- 
gaud's magnificent portrait of the King; next comes Rew 9 
the mere paraphernalia of royalty, the ample folds of the 
mantle, the monumental periwig; and finally Ludovicus, 
a wizened old man. This clever satire strikes us at pres- 
ent as deficient in historical sense. The essential char- 
acter of Louis XIV is that in him it was impossible to 
dissociate Ludovicus from Rex. Every inch a King, and 
every moment a King. 

His function to Mm was truly sacerdotal. The tradi- 
tion which, as we have so often seen, linked the French 
monarchy with the Church, was for Louis XIV a living 
reality. The purely secular and somewhat flippant atti- 
tude of Henry IV ("Paris is well worth a mass") had 
been conveniently forgotten: the grandson of the Bear- 
nese was the heir of Saint Louis, Charlemagne and Clovis, 
the Lord's Anointed. Louis was by no means a religious 
bigot: certainly not at least in the early years of his 
reign, when he took Moliere and his Tartuffe under his 
special protection; but he was sincerely pious. His 
mother, a Spaniard, Anne of Austria, was an ardent 
Catholic : he heard mass every day, and told innumerable 
beads. He felt the hand of Providence guiding him in a 
particular way: his birth had been a special answer to 
prayer after many years of a barren union, he was "the 
child of the miracle," the gift of God, Dieudonne. The 
old Roman theories propounded by the legal officers of 
the crown, the universal craving for authority as the con- 
dition of order, the genuine and reasonable piety of the 
age, converged and united in the doctrine of Monarchy 
by Divine Right. This doctrine was accepted with a lit- 
eralness which we find it hard to comprehend: it is sig- 
nificant that it was best formulated by Bossuet, not a 
fanatic, not a courtier, but a robust, sensible representa- 
tive of the substantial middle class. Much that on the 
surface appears ludicrous and even monstrous in the wor- 
ship of the King's majesty becomes intelligible when this 
universal belief in Divine Right is realized. If in the 
Chapel of Versailles, the courtiers turned their backs on 

152 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

the altar when the King appeared, there was at least a 
shadow of excuse for their undeniable servility : they were 
bowing, not merely to a power of the flesh, but to the 
vicar of God. 

In this universal conspiracy in favour of absolutism, it 
would have been only too easy for a young man's head 
to be turned. Louis XIV was not protected against such 
a danger by a powerful intellect or by a solid education. 
St. Simon, who, in his final portrait of Louis XIV, at- 
tempts to be equitable, insists upon the ordinary quality 
of his mind; Lavisse endorses the verdict of the savage 
memorialist, and the protests of Louis XIV's most ardent 
apologists are, on this point, so guarded as not to carry 
much conviction. Few people, among his enemies, denied 
him the title of a great king ; fewer still, among his ad- 
mirers, would dare to call him a great man. That Louis 
XIV was absurdly filled with the idea of his own grandeur 
is only too evident: he lived in a cloud of incense, and 
court etiquette became the liturgy of a cult of which he 
was both the high priest and the object. Yet there must 
have been in him a saving grace, that guarded him from 
the ultimate follies of omnipotence. That saving grace 
was the fundamental virtue of classicism, common sense. 
Francis I was capricious; even Napoleon, with all his 
robust grasp of realities, could be visionary and unac- 
countable in a word a Romanticist: Louis XIV seldom 
lost his sense of measure. This is an ancient French trait 
which classicism brought to full fruition, but which far 
antedates classicism: in the medieval epic, the lack of it, 
demesure, is considered as the hamartia, the inner flaw, 
which proves the undoing of heroes. Louis XIV earnestly 
believed that the source of his authority was divine; he 
must have nodded approval when Bossuet repeated, in 
scriptural language : "O Kings ! Ye are like gods !" But 
when provincial monks dedicated to him a thesis in which 
he was compared with God himself, "in such a man- 
ner as to show that God was only the copy," Louis XIV, 
on the advice of Bossuet, had it suppressed. Madame de 
Sevigne, who reported the incident, comments sagely: 

Louis XIV: Personality, Court, Government 153 

"Trop est trop" too much is too much. It is this innate 
feeling that trop est trop which almost invariably pre- 
served Louis XIV from irreparable mischief. 

He had a quality rarer and more precious than bril- 
liancy: a sense of his own limitations. He dabbled in 
poetry and loved praise : but he played a delightful and 
cruel joke, as good as a scene in Moliere, on a foolish old 
courtier, Marshal de Gramont, who had shown himself 
ready to extol or damn a madrigal on the slightest hint 
of the sovereign. He listened to reason: he who, for more 
than half a century, decided alone, never decided on the 
spur of the moment, and never without consultation. He 
could keep his own counsel : but he had no secret from his 
advisers, as was the anarchistic practice of Louis XV and 
Napoleon III. He, the source of all authority, recog- 
nized superiorities. When he asked Boileau : "Who is the 
greatest writer under my reign?" and Boileau replied: 
"Sire, Moliere," his answer was: "I did not think so; 
(he liked Moliere, but thought of him only as a clever 
entertainer), but you know better about those things 
than I do" a confession which could hardly have been 
wrenched, on almost any subject, from Napoleon 1^ 
Adolphe Thiers, or William II. 

Even what has been called the mediocrity of the King's 
mind, his lack of philosophical training, his love for de- 
tails, from court gossip to minute military reviews, 
served him in good stead. It preserved him from the 
danger which was first to alter and then to destroy the 
ancient regime: the intellectual radicalism which was in 
germ in Descartes's philosophy. In that age which is so 
often described as Cartesian, Louis XIV was not affected 
by "rationalism" in the least. He too would have said 
that "reasoning drives reason away," reason for him be- 
ing moderation, application, common sense. Descartes, in 
theory at least, wanted to clear the ground and start anew 
on a logical plan: Colbert dallied to some extent with 
such a Jacobin ideal, but Louis XIV not at all. He might 
have attempted a royal revolution, clarifying, simplify- 
ing, rationalizing the chaos of ancient France : he worked 

154 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

indeed in that direction, but he advanced with very cau- 
tious step. He curbed the powers that limited his own: 
he did not suppress them altogether. We shall see how 
closely ? how jealously he watched the nobility: but he re- 
spected its privileges. He tamed his Parliaments : but the 
Parliaments survived, ready to resume their embarrass- 
ing opposition under the next king. The Revocation of 
the Edict of Nantes, his worst mistake, was indeed a revo- 
lutionary measure; but he thought he had prepared it 
with suitable caution, with twenty years of peaceful ap- 
proaches; and he sincerely believed that the work was 
practically complete. He shrank from the idea of a 
tabula rasa. Better than Descartes, better than Colbert, 
he represented the classical compromise: authority 
founded both upon tradition and upon reason. The men- 
tal timidity, the sluggishness perhaps, that checked him, 
were closely akin to instinctive wisdom. They did not al- 
together save France from adventures: but in the end, 
they made the difference between, disaster and irremediable 

Louis XIV loved what he himself called "the business 
of being a king, 55 le metier de roi. And that business, for 
him, was not limited to state functions. For these his 
fondness never waned : but business to him was also plain 
"business." He did not turn himself into an accountant 
or scribe, the first bureaucrat in the realm, like Philip II 
poring over his papers in the gloom of the EscoriaL But 
he had adopted definite hours for his work in cabinet or 
council, and he never relaxed his self -discipline. In coun- 
cil, he was not dictatorial and he was not indifferent; he 
listened to reports, encouraged argument, and decided. 
During the last period of his ministerial autocracy, Car- 
dinal Mazarin had made the Council a farce: he held it 
whilst he was being shaved, or playing with his pet mon- 
key. Later, Louis XV was for a time dignified, impene- 
trable; but, under that mask of majesty, his mind was 
absent. On the contrary, the seriousness and the zest 
with which Louis XIV attended to the business of the 
State never flagged. 

Louis XIV: Peraonality, Court, Government 155 


Thanks to the perfect congruency between the epoch, 
the function and the man, Louis XIV kept up the elabo- 
rate ritual of his court life, and the manifold duties of 
government, without being fatigued and without being 
bored. He was served by a vigorous physique. He was 
of middle height, and robust; not alert, not vivacious, as 
Henry IV, crippled though he was with rheumatism, re- 
mained to the end, but a trifle heavy. Compared with 
his father, the slender, clear-cut Louis XIII, he was al- 
most coarse. The famous Bourbon nose undeniably has 
character: only the staunchest legitimists will find it 
beautiful. A slight droop in the full lower lip revealed 
his descent from Charles V. He was a voracious eater, 
in spite of stomach troubles tormenting him from early 
youth. He loved all physical exercises, was for a long 
time strangely devoted to the dance, remained until late 
a good horseman, and was not unequal to the fatigues of 
a campaign. But he was not an active military leader: 
he decided that "Ms grandeur attached him to the shore," 
as Boileau diplomatically put it. His visits to the front, 
his directing the final assault of a fortress, were only mag- 
nificent parades. 

There was nothing gloomy about his constant stateli- 
ness : Louis XIV was the reverse of an Oriental despot, 
an Ahasuerus before whom even his favourite trembled. 
Ernest Lavisse insists upon the un-French elements in 
Louis XIV's character: his punctiliousness, his gravity, 
his elaborate courtesy came from beyond the Pyrenees. 
Few kings, adds the Republican historian, were truly 
French : a sly dig at those "nationalists' 5 who combine the 
hatred of foreigners with their loyalty to the dynasty. 
In spite of such an authority, the "Frenchness" not the 
"Frenchiness" of Louis XIV seems to us undeniable. It 
is true that Henry IV, with his gay Gascon sallies, with 
his relapses into soldierlike coarseness, with the easy fa- 
miliarity that he affected (playing upon it like a virtuoso 

156 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

on a finely tuned instrument) is and ever was much nearer 
the heart of the French people. There is nothing about 
Louis XIV of the folk-like quality found in Louis XII 
and even in Louis IX. The only legend which has that 
flavour, the one that represents him sharing his supper 
with Moliere as a lesson to supercilious courtiers, may 
have some symbolical truth, but S out of keeping with^the 
whole tenor of the King's life. Louis XIV never was, 
never attempted to be, "popular." But he achieved the 
miracle of remaining for half a century erect without 
stiffness. He came to power a very young man, eager to 
rule, eager to work, and eager to play. If he gave a few 
hours every day to ceremonial, and many more to seri- 
ous business, he had time to spare for every form of 
amusement. In 1664, he gave at Versailles, then still a 
minor royal residence, a series of entertainments called 
The Pleasures of the Enchanted Isle, in which Moliere 
had a leading part. The title was a programme. A hard 
worker, Louis wanted also his full share of enjoyment: 
his hunger in that line was no less voracious than his 
royal appetite at table. Work and play, he wanted his 
life to be "the Life Enchanted." 

Hunting, dancing, he took part in ballets, attired in 
mythological costumes, when he was no longer a youth, 
card playing, filled the many hours which he did not de- 
vote to state affairs. With his love of order, he saw to 
it that his palace was not turned into a sharpers' den: 
noble gamblers whose invariable luck became suspicious 
were expelled without mercy. Not only did he preserve 
decency, but he established a standard of elegance, which 
has remained unexcelled. It is not every sovereign, de- 
sirous of "having a good time," who can be served by a 
Moliere or even by a Lulli. No doubt these pleasures, on 
a truly Louis-Quatorze scale, would sit a little heavily on 
modern shoulders : the tunic-clad girl of to-day would feel 
crushed by the monuments of whalebone and brocade that 
adorned the all-too-substantial charms of Madame de 
Montespan. But the contemporaries bore the burden with 
a smile. Madame de Sevigne was not in constant at- 

Louis XIV: Personality, Court, Government 157 

tendance at Court; among her friends were men upon 
whom the King had frowned Retz, La Rochefoucauld, 
Fouquet himself; she was of a free and sprightly dispo- 
sition: yet, whenever she mentions the King, she conveys 
an impression of perfect naturalness. Napoleon's court- 
iers felt that they were in the lion's den: Louis XIV was 
a French gentleman entertaining gentlemen. His tre- 
mendous pride created no obstacle : he knew so intuitively 
his own position and everybody else's that, himself at ease, 
he made almost every one feel at ease. 

One side of his nature is so universally familiar that a 
mere allusion will suffice: his appetite for pleasure ex- 
pressed itself in innumerable love affairs. By the side of 
the official favourites, there were many fancies of a sea- 
son or even of a day, which have been called "the small 
change of adultery." He had a private door opened into 
the apartments of the maids-of -honour ; and he took it 
very ill when the Mistress-of-the-Robe had the door walled 
up. His great liaisons he flaunted with Jove-like cyni- 
cism ; and he found a Moliere to condone his Pagan phi- 
losophy. 1 There is in French history a long line of royal 
mistresses, Agnes Sorel, Diane de Poitiers, Gabrielle 
d'Estrees, down to Madame de Pompadour and Madame 
Du Barry : all that can be said of Louis XIV is that, even 
in his vices, he had "the grand style" so dear to Matthew 
Arnold. The touching La Valliere, who loved him truly 
and became a nun; Fontanges, best remembered for her 
head-gear; and especially his true mate in magnificence 
and imperiousness, Madame de Montespan: all are fig- 
ures dear to historical romance. There is nothing more 
dramatic in the life of the great king than the moment 
when an investigation of the ubiquitous poisonings in 
high society brought out the complicity of Madame de 
Montespan. At any rate, the king's amours did not in- 
terfere with his policy. Madame de Maintenon, the pious 
companion of his old age, belongs to a different period; 

* ff Un partake avec Jupiter 

N'a rien dv, tout qui dtshonore" 


158 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

the bourgeois decency of his secret marriage with her 
bears no resemblance to the scarlet splendour of his ma- 
turity. She was, not one of his sins, but part of his re- 
pentance, and perhaps his penance. 

In other respects also, Louis XIV 5 s boundless pride car- 
ried him beyond his classical sense of measure. France, 
at least the elements in France that were articulate, 
wanted a "great reign 3 * ; and Louis wanted to be a "great 
king," Both had their desire: but in pursuing greatness, 
it was difficult to draw the line between solid achievement 
and display. There is much in the period that is gran- 
diose rather than grand, and pompous rather than noble, 
like many tirades in Corneille's tragedies. Louis loved 
magnificence and he loved glory: on his death bed, he re- 
pented, and warned his successor against these two temp- 

Louis Bertrand, more royalist than the King, refuses 
to follow Louis XIV in his retractation. Why be ashamed 
of Versailles, and of all those wars in which France, by 
herself, appeared "not unequal to many, 95 nee pluribus 
impar? As was said of Napoleon, "the cost is forgotten, 
and the glory is remembered. 55 It seems to us that Louis 
Bertrand is here defending the classical age with the fer- 
vid imagination of a romanticist. We are grateful to 
Louis XIV for works of solid and useful magnificence, 
such as highways, canals and royal manufactures; and 
for works of sheer beauty also, for palaces and city em- 
bellishments which added much to the patrimony of 
France without imposing upon her a crushing burden. 
The Place des Victoires, the Place Vendome, the Colon- 
nade of the Louvre, the Invalides, the triumphal arches 
of the St. Martin and St. Denis gates, bear his imprint, 
although they were not all due to his initiative. But, in 
this as in theology, trop est trop. The Aqueduct of 
Maintenon, which cost millions of money and thousands 
of lives before it had to be abandoned, was an extravagant 
blunder ; and the charm of Versailles is actually impaired, 
not enhanced, by the very immensity of the structure. 
Louis fell, and some of his recent admirers are falling 

Louis XIV: Personality, Court, Government 159 

after him, into what we call the American delusion of con- 
founding size with grandeur. To a civilized mind, the 
Parthenon is more impressive than the Pyramids, the 
Sainte-Chapelle than the Trocadero, and the Venus of 
Milo than the Statue of Liberty* It may be cheap demo- 
cratic sentimentality to think of the blood and tears with 
which the stones of Versailles were cemented ; but it is not 
the acme of refinement to gloat over the fact that the gar- 
den elevation is five hundred and eighty meters long, and 
is adorned with nearly four hundred windows. 

In the same way, we see little to rejoice in the majes- 
tic procession of wars, each deliberately brought about by 
the King's gluttonous craving for glory. War of Devo- 
lution (1667-68), War of Holland (1672-78), War of 
the Augsburg League (1689-1697), War of the Spanish 
Succession (1701-14), they fill twenty-eight years out 
of a half century. They look well in the pictures of Van 
der Meulen : but the victories of Alexander, as painted by 
Lebrun, would have done just as well. Boileau himself, 
staunch royalist though he was, denounced in plain terms 
the madness of this constant quest for glory. We shall 
see in what a state of exhaustion and somber discontent 
all this "magnificence" left the kingdom. 

In the case of Louis XIV as in the case of Napoleon, 
only wilful blindness will lead us to admire the whole 
reign as one block, whilst the contemporaries themselves 
were conscious of differences. The temper of France in 
1700 no longer was that of 1661. It is an even more dan- 
gerous fallacy to admire the "glory" and lightly to dis- 
miss the hatred, the ruin, the humiliation which are its 
inevitable Nemesis. Autocracy never is safe or sane : all 
that can be said is that an autocracy based on the "clas- 
sical compromise" is somewhat safer than one which re- 
poses solely on the divine right of individual genius. 


When we think of Louis XIV, we have two pictures in 
mind. The first might be an actual scene: the King at 

160 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Versailles, surrounded by his gorgeous courtiers : a noble- 
man himself, the head of their caste, their master no 
doubt, but living their life and thinking their thoughts. 
The other is a composite, an ideal vision, such as official 
artists love to paint on the walls of State palaces: the 
"Century of Louis XIV" and its makers. In the center, 
the King again ; but by his side, Bossuet, his ecclesiastical 
right arm; Colbert, his regent in economic and adminis- 
trative affairs; Louvois, de Lionne, who prepared his 
armies and his diplomatic campaigns ; Vauban, who cui- 
rassed his kingdom with fortresses ; Boileau, the Dictator 
of Parnassus, and his friends Moliere and Racine ; LuUi, 
his musician; Le Brun, the autocrat of fine arts; Man- 
sard, Lenotre, architects in stone or in living foliage; all 
the representatives of that classical spirit which was fo- 
cussed in his person; all bourgeois to a man, and some 
very modest bourgeois. 1 Of the great servants of the 
regime, only the military officers, and chief among them 
Turenne and Conde, belonged to the nobility. In social 
life, Louis was the prince of the nobles ; in practical work, 
he was the executive head of the bourgeoisie. The Court 
was the ornament of his reign; the middle class the in- 
strument of his rule. St. Simon was conscious of this con- 
tradiction: he denounced the age as one of "vile bour- 
geoisie," and his paradox is now universally accepted as 
the sober truth. It is not certain that Louis XIV him- 
self was conscious of the fact : he was not given to ration- 

1 Nothing further will be said about this harmony between the differ- 
ent manifestations of the classical spirit. As a general idea, it has been 
a truism from the very first; and a detailed demonstration of the ob- 
vious would require a whole volume. The students of French literature 
will do well to familiarize themselves with the life and manners of the 
time, through Memoirs, letters, pictures and prints: having done so, 
they should pass resolutely beyond, from civilization to literature. It 
can not be said too often that "environment and time" explain Racine, 
but explain also Pradon, his dull-witted competitor; what they utterly 
fail to explain is why Pradon is not Racine. It is important indeed to 
ascertain the share of the Louis Quatorze Style in the art of the great 
classics, in order to discount that share, and reach their elemental 
genius. Had Taine used his own method in that direction, he would 
have insisted, not on the obvious contrast between Shakespeare and 
Racine, but upon their strange and profound kinship. 

Louis XIV: Personality, Court, Government 161 

There was therefore a great mixture of motives in his 
treatment of the nobility. The Fronde had filled Mm 
with diffidence; his hasty flight to St. Germain, in his 
childhood, had remained impressed upon his memory, and 
Mazarin had taken good care to drive the lesson home. 
After the terrible discipline enforced by Richelieu, re- 
bellion had broken out again: in every noble, Louis sus- 
pected a potential frondeur. In Louis's desire to have his 
nobility constantly under his eyes, we may read a policy 
of distrust. The Court nobles were his hostages, Ver- 
sailles was their gilded cage. When he reduced them to 
magnificent servility, he may have remembered that from 
the same caste had arisen, not so very long before, men 
who had defied the crown. If this was in his mind, then 
he was reading aright the history of his race, which had 
ever found in the aristocracy its bitterest enemies. 

But Louis XIV, we must repeat, was not a philosophi- 
cal historian, a crowned Charles Maurras. It is quite 
possible that his pride alone dictated his policy. During 
the Great War, we have come across generals who thought 
their staff was never large enough for impressiveness ; and 
Louis XIV, in whose mind as in whose features there was 
a noticeable element of commonness, may have wanted a 
large Court for the same reason that a modern hostess en- 
joys large receptions. We must never forget that it was 
not contemporary America that created the ideal: "the 
biggest in the world. 55 The Pharaohs came long before. 

Two contradictory facts are equally evident: the first 
is that Louis XIV carefully refrained from entrusting 
power to great aristocrats ; the second is that he treated 
his courtiers, not only with generosity, but with consid- 
eration, with genuine kindness, with affability. None of 
the cruel contempt which Napoleon showed at times for 
his titled lackeys is perceptible in Louis XIV: he re- 
spected himself in his associates. A gentleman was rais- 
ing money among his friends in order to purchase a great 
office, and was finding it a difficult task: "Why did you 
not count me among your friends? 55 said the King; and 
he gave him the needed sum. This offers us, we believe, 

102 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

a true picture of Louis XIV: not a suspicions tyrant, but 
a delicately generous host. If he kept from the nobles all 
sources of real power, he did not curtail their honorific 
and fiscal privileges, and he showered upon them honours 
and liberalities. Titles and sinecures were theirs, a con- 
stant round of festivities was provided for them, and pres- 
ents without stint. If Louis XIV was the jailer of Ms 
nobility, no one could wish for a kindlier one. 

It was not fear that urged the courtiers to Versailles, 
but hope. Nothing happened to the man who chose to 
stay on his estates: he was ignored, he was forgotten, he 
ceased to exist. No place or pension would ever come to 
him or to his kin. He had shut himself out of the Earthly 
Paradise. The provincial nobility, as depicted by Mo- 
Here or Madame de Sevigne, is grotesque; and a man 
upon whom the King did not smile sank to the level of the 
Sotenville, Pourceaugnac and d'Escarbagnas. "Sire," 
said M. de Vardes, who, after a period of exile, had been 
reinstated, "when one is unfortunate enough to be kept 
away from your presence, one is worse than miserable, one 
is ridiculous.' 3 And he wept tears of joy, because the 
gates of the Enchanted Life were opening again. 

This double policy, friendliness and diffidence, all fa- 
vours, no actual power, was ultimately to ruin the no- 
bility and the monarchy with it Privileges accompanied 
with responsibilities have some justification: the privi- 
leges of social parasites will inevitably become intoler- 
able. And the King, living among his nobles, became 
their prisoner in his turn. They formed a screen between 
him and his people. He too became, with Louis XV, a 
parasite, an absentee landlord, the chief and the worst of 
the hated privilege-holders. Louis XVI wanted to love 
his people, and his people craved to love him: but the 
aristocratic ring had grown too strong, and could not be 
broken, Louis XIV achieved the paradox of creating the 
most brilliant court in history, and the most useless. The 
result still dazzles the world: but it was an absurdity. 

Louis XIV: Personality, Court, Government 163 


The policy of Louis XIV with the privileged Third Es- 
tate was not radically different from his policy with the 
nobility: it may be defined as conservative and friendly 
diffidence. "Trust no Frenchman," Mazarin had said; 
and Louis did not trust the organized bourgeoisie any 
more than he did the aristocracy. Any right that did not 
have its origins in his person was a danger ; but no right 
founded on tradition could be lightly swept aside. 

The States General, of course, were not convened. The 
Assemblies of Notables, a safer substitute used by for- 
mer autocrats, Francis I, Henry IV, Richelieu, were also 
given up. The privileges of the provinces and cities were 
whittled down whenever occasion offered. No revolution- 
ary step was taken, and on the whole, these privileges, 
slightly reduced in some cases, survived: but the King 
took good care that they should be purely nominal. The 
cities continued to elect their officials, with all customary 
forms and amid traditional festivities : but they "freely" 
elected the men he had been pleased to designate. The 
Provincial States, in the parts of the country that had re- 
tained that institution, "freely" voted the supplies that 
he had indicated. Externally, very little was changed in 
the regime of ancient France: the monarchy was using, 
half -consciously, a process of imperceptible suffocation. 

Nothing better illustrates the method of Louis XIV 
than his attitude towards the Parliaments. These judicial 
bodies, styling themselves Sovereign Courts, were a thorn 
in his flesh: sovereignty as he understood it could not be 
divided. They had assumed a right of censorship over 
legislation, that is to say over the expression of his royal 
will. They had, especially in Church affairs, a tradition 
of their own. They had resisted many kings, and once led 
an open rebellion. As the judges had bought their places, 
and had made them practically hereditary within their 
small caste, they were to a large extent independent from 
his authority. Yet Louis did not suppress the Parlia- 
ments and replace them with a new system of royal courts, 

164 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

as Maupccra did in the eighteenth century; he did not 
abolish the venality of offices, which, long tolerated, had 
been officially recognized and organized under Henry IV 1 ; 
he did not even formally withhold the right of offering 
"respectful remonstrances." But, without altering the 
institution, he effectively silenced all opposition. A scene 
which occurred under Mazarin, in 1655, has been unduly 
emphasized and turned into a sort of legend: the young 
King, hunting at Vincennes, was informed that the Par- 
liament was deliberating on edicts previously registered 
in Ms presence; he rushed to the city, entered the hall of 
deliberation, booted, spurred and whip in hand, gave his 
orders in curt scornful words, and rushed back to the 
hunt. This act of juvenile insolence is not in true Louis 
XIV style. But, in 1665, as he felt there were still a 
few sparks of independence in the Parliament, ^he sum- 
moned it, ready, as he said, "to give an unmistakable 
demonstration, either of the total submission of that body, 
or of the just severity of my punishment" The Court lis- 
tened to the King's orders without a word. Then, one of 
the leaders rose and departed in silence. The others fol- 
lowed, one by one. Consternation could be read on all 
their faces. Henceforth, the Parliament gave no more 

Louis placed his reliance not on the middle Class as a 
class, but on men of the middle class, who were his instru- 
ments, his creatures, and whom he could dismiss at will. 
Ancient France was a tangled mass of privileges : with- 
out destroying them, Louis established everywhere, as a 
growing substitute, the authority of his agents. Thus the 
centralized bureaucratic state developed within the loose 
federation of petty sovereignties based on immemorial 
custom. It was not a revolution, but a dissolving picture ; 

1 In 1604, the right of practically all office-holders to consider their 
charge as their property was recognized; in compensation, a tax, equal 
to one-sixtieth of the assessed value of the charge, was imposed upon 
them. This expedient had been suggested to Sully by a financier, Paulet, 
to whom the collection of the new tax was farmed out for nine years: 
hence its name la Paulette. Several efforts were made to change these 
conditions: one of them was among the causes of the Fronde. But the 
Paulette was not suppressed until 1790. 

Louis XIV: Personality, Court* Government 165 

and, once again, it is not certain that Louis had definitely 
in view the transformation of the old regime. The local 
lord still preserved his ancestral right to administer jus- 
tice : but all important cases and all appeals went to the 
King's jurisdiction* Provinces and fortresses still had 
their noble governors ; but they were appointed for a lim- 
ited period frequently not more than three years. They 
were not expected to reside (the "exile" which M. de 
Vardes 1 had taken so much to heart had been the obliga- 
tion of staying in his government, Aigues-Mortes) ; and 
all the actual work was performed by permanent officials. 
All the gilded sinecures at Court went to noblemen: but 
all the important executive functions were entrusted to 
a new administrative class, of bourgeois origin, and se- 
lected by the King. 

The two chief instruments of government were the JTI- 
tendants and the Secretaries of State or Ministers. We 
have seen that the institution of Intendants, occasionally 
used by Henry IV and even by Francis I, had been greatly 
developed by Richelieu. But even under Richelieu, they 
were inspectors on special missions rather than perma- 
nent executives* With Louis XIV, the system became 
definite. By the side of the Governors mere figure- 
heads, and of the Provincial States & mere historical 
show wherever they still existed the Intendants had all 
the substance of power. Through them, the King was in- 
formed and could act. They were the prototypes of Na- 
poleon's prefects, who survive to-day. 

At the head were the ministers : men who owed every- 
thing to the King, who were responsible to him only, and 
who were jealous, for his sake and for their own, of every 
authority that did not emanate exclusively from him. 
They belonged to the middle class : indeed, the greatest of 
them, Colbert, was the son of a cloth merchant. They 
were different from that "nobility of the gown" which, al- 
though of bourgeois origin, had become semi-independent. 
Frequently, this difference reached the point of antag- 

166 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

The first ministerial team with which Louis XIV gov- 
erned had been picked out by Mazarin; and the selection 
reveals the practical genius of that adventurer. The chief 
of them was Colbert, a sort of universal "Minister of the 
Interior," whom we shall meet again in studying the 
economic conditions of the time; Michel Le Tellier; his 
son Louvois, the great war administrator, and, as such, 
often suspected of being the evil counselor of the King; 
Hugues de Lionne, not a constructive genius in diplo- 
macy, but a perfect instrument. These men identified 
their fortunes with the King, who rewarded them right 
royally. They were not disinterested, but they were hon- 
est. They secured the downfall of Fouquet, the Superin- 
tendent of Finances, who, like Mazarin, had managed to 
grow fabulously rich in a famished kingdom. They were 
ruthless with great and small alike: Louvois was "a bear" ; 
Colbert, "the North Pole"; and they, like their master, 
were systematic and indefatigable workers. Under their 
vigorous impulsion, the huge state machine, still incom- 
plete and hampered by all the survivals of feudal chaos, 
moved heavily and steadily, and accomplished its work. 

The bureaucratic State, however, was destined to reach 
its perfection in Prussia, or in the France of Napoleon, 
and not under Louis XIV. After twenty years of "glory, 5 * 
Louis XIV was naturally confirmed in a sense of his own 
infallibility. His rule was all sufficient : what was needed 
in a minister was not initiative, but docility. So the sec- 
ond generation of the King's servants, the one he picked 
out for himself, was vastly inferior to the first. It may be 
symbolized in Chamillart, who cumulated the crushing 
heritage of Colbert and Louvois: Chamillart, an excel- 
lent man who played a very good game of billiards but, 
of course, not quite so good as the King's. Napoleon 
ruled fifteen years and Louis XIV fifty-four: but already 
in Napoleon was felt the inevitable tendency of the auto- 
crat : assured that no will is needed or wanted except his 
own, he is inclined to prefer smooth mediocrities. 

Then, in a state so entirely based upon the hereditary 
principle, that principle was bound to assert itself among 

Louis XIV: Personality, Court 3 Government 167 

the new administrative class. The ancient regime thought 
in terms of families or dynasties rather than in terms of 
individual merit. What we brand as nepotism was then 
legitimate and praiseworthy. Le TeHier and Colbert were 
the heads of rival clans, for whose members positions had 
to be found. Colbert, in particular, established a mag- 
nificent connection, which received high-sounding titles 
and intermarried with the old aristocracy. So by the side 
of the nobility of the sword, by the side of the younger 
and lower nobility of the gown, we find a third but most 
aggressive ministerial nobility. Even Napoleon could 
not resist the same temptation : dynasties of Bonapartist 
officials were created, which were beginning to restrict his 
choice, and to nullify his motto: a career freely open to 
all talents. 

The regime of Louis XIV therefore can not be defined 
in simple terms. It was a theocracy ; it was an autocracy* 
It was the rule of "reason," not strictly according to Des- 
cartes ; it was the rule of tradition, winch the Bang might 
seek to limit, but never refused to acknowledge. It had 
the Court as a splendid, overgrown and useless flower, and 
the bureaucracy as a robust stem. The unity of the pe- 
riod, admirably represented by its King, was a unity of 
style, and not of governmental doctrines. The age of 
JLouis XIV consciously sought grandeur and order. That 
it occasionally fell into the grandiose and the monotonous 
was a danger inseparable from the attempt; but on the 
whole, it achieved its aim as no epoch had done since the 
days of Augustus. 




I. The anti-economic prejudice in the classical age. Not lim- 
ited to nobility and clergy. Not wholly extinct. 

II. Survival of the medieval system: guilds and crafts. Pe- 
riods of economic recuperation (Henry IV), hardship (Riche- 
lieu) ^ ruin (the Fronde). 

III. Colbert. Fall of Fouquet. All-embracing activity of 
Colbert (1661-1683). Various aspects of Colbertism. Clearing 
up of the past. Ruthless efficiency. 

IV. Colbert (II). Attempted reorganization of economic life. 
His great ordinances and codes. "Mercantilism" and protection. 

V. Colbert (III). Active paternalism. State-fostered co- 
lonial companies. Royal manufactures. Subsidies, etc. 

VI. Conclusion: Economic failure of the Grand Reign. 

THE economic and social history of the sixteenth cen- 
tury is, as we have noted, still extremely incom- 
plete. Our knowledge of these aspects of life in 
the seventeenth century is not much more satisfactory. 
Ernest Lavisse complained that * Ve are better acquainted 
with French society in the middle ages, with Roman so- 
ciety, with the society of ancient Egypt, than we are 
with French society in the seventeenth century, which re- 
mains obscure behind the grand stage scenery of Ver- 
sailles. Such a state of affairs is evidently absurd." 
These words were printed in 1906. Nearly twenty years 
later, Henri See, in his Evolution Commerciale et Indus- 
trieUe de la France sous VAncien Regime, without pro- 
fessing the same degree of agnosticism, recognizes that in 
certain important portions of the field, "everything re- 
mains to be done." The great Colonial Companies and 


Seventeenth-Ceiitiiiy Economic Conditions 169 

tlie Royal Manufacturers, illuminated by some rays of the 
monarchical sun, are fairly well known. But the meth- 
ods, the difficulties, the rewards of home trade and local 
industry, on the other hand, remain exceedingly vague. 

"I can doubt everything, 55 says Descartes, "except my 
own doubt." In the same way, our uncertainty about 
economic conditions in the seventeenth century is our only 
certainty; and this negative result, indirectly, has much 
to teach. It implies, for one thing, that for the men of 
the time, economic affairs were not worth recording and 
discussing, that they were beneath the notice of history* 
Every Frenchman, and the King himself, had to think 
about money matters: but these material concerns were 
considered as degrading necessities. The whole trend of 
thought was un-economic, or even anti-economic. There 
were already in the seventeenth century, as there had been 
in antiquity, in the middle ages, at the time of the Re- 
naissance, communities in which economic considerations 
were recognized as vital. Of these, the Dutch Republic 
is the best example, and no two countries could stand in 
sharper contrast than this commercial commonwealth and 
the monarchy of Louis XIV. In France, the first Or- 
ders, the Clergy and the Nobility, scorned toil and trade. 
A cleric prayed, and a noble fought, for the realm, and 
that was enough. A gentleman might accept a pension, 
a bounty, a sinecure, a profitable privilege, a toll levied 
on the industry of others : but he would lose caste if he 
personally engaged in any gainful occupation. The only 
exceptions were certain forms of oversea trade, which had 
some of the glamour of adventure and conquest, and cer- 
tain new industries, like glass blowing, which the Kings 
specially wanted to foster. That invincible prejudice of 
the upper classes is too well known for us to dwell upon 
it. More striking still, and more perilous, was the atti- 
tude of the bourgeoisie. The Third Estate espoused the 
ideal of aristocratic parasitism. If a craftsman or a shop- 
keeper rose to be a manufacturer or a merchant on a 
fairly large scale, his one dream was to give up his busi- 
ness as soon as possible, and to set up as a gentleman. 

170 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

He would purchase an "office 35 from the King, an estate 
from some impoverished noble; he would secure for his 
children access to the "nobility of the gown," and try to 
marry his daughter to a Count or Marquis whose scut- 
cheon needed regilding. The ridicule poured by Moliere 
on these "would-be gentlemen," Arnolphe in The School 
for Wives, the immortal Monsieur Jourdain, the ill- 
starred Georges Dandin, is a healthy sign of change. It 
was not a new social phenomenon that Moliere was reg- 
istering, but a new feeling. A bourgeois himself, an out- 
spoken critic of the supercilious, sophisticated and idle 
aristocracy, he was not condemning healthy ambition in 
the name of nobiliary snobbishness: he realized that a 
bourgeois was humiliating himself by abandoning his tra- 
dition of honest work. At any rate, this is the way in 
which it strikes a twentieth century reader : it is the privi- 
lege of a classic, and the surest token of his greatness, 
that his message can ever be reinterpreted in modern 

There was some change in the attitude of the bour- 
geoisie in the eighteenth century: the growth of a new 
spirit was accelerated by English influences, and was well 
expressed by Voltaire, Diderot and Sedaine. 1 But, even 
after the Revolution, the ancient prejudice survived. 
Monsieur Jourdain reappeared as Monsieur Poirier, 
father-in-law of a Marquis, and nursing the hope of be- 
coming, "by 1848," Baron Poirier and a Peer of the 
Realm. There were innumerable Georges Dandins under 
the Third Republic: some of them came from Amer- 
ica. The financial crisis which attended and followed the 
Great War may have dealt the anti-economic supersti- 
tion its death-blow. The vast middle class of small ren- 
tiers* living modestly on the income of safe investments, 
has been the chief victim of the revolution in prices. The 
so-called "liberal" professions have also been hit very 
hard. Only those who actually cooperate in production 
or distribution can face without fear the changed circum- 
stances; so there may emerge from financial chaos a 

1 Cf . particularly Sedaine's drama, Le PhUosopke sans le savoir. 

Seventeenth-Century Economic Conditions 171 

France in which, it will no longer be a stigma of inferior- 
ity to be working for one's living. 

If we bear this prejudice in mind, we shall no longer be 
astonished at the paucity and insignificance of documents 
about the actual life of the working and trading classes. 
It was an uninteresting, a vulgar subject, not fit for the 
grand taste of the time. When Madame de Sevigne once 
visited a forge, she must needs turn her ironworkers into 
Cyclopses and Vulcans, so as to make the description ac- 
ceptable for polite ears. 


The economic fabric of society remained the same as in 
the sixteenth century, which had inherited it from the 
middle ages. Industry and local trade, on the whole, were 
still conducted on a very limited scale. In certain regions, 
like Lyons, and in certain lines of business, the rigid sys- 
tem of the guilds and crafts had never fully prevailed. 
Where it did obtain, and notably in Paris, the tendencies 
we have previously noted were still at work. The crafts 
fought bitter battles for their privileges, against inde- 
pendent workmen and against rival crafts. The masters 
sought to turn the crafts into a closed hereditary oli- 
garchy ; with the aid of the Kings, they strove, and on the 
whole strove successfully, to keep wages down. They 
struggled against the journeymen's secret societies or 
Compagnonnages; and in that struggle, they enlisted the 
support not of the Kings only, but of the Church as well. 
The forms of initiation into these societies, which were of 
religious origin, now seemed to pious people a parody of 
the sacred ritual. In the middle of the century, a small 
band of devout persons, the Company of the Holy Sac- 
rament, was extremely active in prosecuting the Compa- 
gnonnages on religious grounds. 

On the whole, the crafts, as strongly organized as ever, 
were losing their vitality. Their influence in municipal 
affairs, which had been great and at times decisive, be- 
came a thing of the past when the direct power of the 

178 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Mnff was substituted for that of the burgesses. The 
monarchy had asserted, and was extending, its authority 
over the crafts. Yet, hampered by its invincible respect 
for tradition, it did not succeed in imposing a standard 
organization upon all trades the dream of Colbert, or 
in doing away with the guilds altogether the ideal of 
Turgot. As in the sixteenth century, the intervention 
of the crown was at times an advantage to the general 
public: but in most cases, it was dictated by financial con- 
siderations. The King created new Masters, and^ col- 
lected the fees; innumerable inspectors, supervisors, 
gangers, weighers and measurers were appointed; their 
offices or commissions were sold out by the King, and the 
office-holders had to be supported by additional dues. Not 
infrequently, the trades bought themselves off from the 
threatened encumbrance ; the new offices were abolished as 
soon as created; and the whole transaction appeared in 
its true light: a time-honoured method of squeezing more 
money out of the productive classes. 

The seventeenth century was marked by no essential 
change in the conditions of economic life. The fluctua- 
tions in prosperity, apart from the recurrence of good 
and bad seasons, were due chiefly to political causes. The 
reign of Henry IV saw a remarkable effort towards na- 
tional reconstruction. In restoring order, the King was 
also contributing to material well-being. No doubt the 
increase in public wealth, and the personal popularity 
that would follow, were sought by the Bearnese as con- 
ditions of his own power: but there was more in his pol- 
icy than enlightened selfishness. He was no saint, and no 
philanthropist: but he had a kind heart, a quick power 
of sympathy, and, living away from Courts, he had seen 
at close range the tragic distress of the people. The 
French understood that their welfare was a genuine con- 
cern of their sovereign, and they loved him accordingly, 
even for mere velleities and pious wishes. Sully, colder of 
heart and narrower of mind, had this merit at least, that 
he hated the wastefulness of courtiers; agriculture he 
loved with a jealous passion. Under the good king and his 

Seventeenth-Century Economic Conditions 173 

efficient minister, Erance had a breathing spell; and al- 
though the prosperity of the early sixteenth century was 
not fully restored, the times of Henry IV were remem- 
bered and regretted up to the end of the ancient regime. 

Much ground was lost, not only under the feeble or 
corrupt advisers of Queen Marie, during the minority of 
Louis XIII, but even under Richelieu. The great Cardi- 
nal was no economist ; his grandiose plans for the absolute 
authority of the King in France, and for the supremacy 
of France in Europe, left him no time for petty thoughts 
of production or trade. His glorious ministry we might 
well say his reign was exceedingly hard on the popula- 
tion; and his death was hailed with rejoicings, not only 
by the nobles whom he had curbed, but by all classes of 

The worst was still to be. Under Mazarin, France 
reached again the depths of misery that she had known 
during the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Re- 
ligion. The Fronde, that comic-opera adventure of aris- 
tocratic heroines and their beribboned admirers, had for 
its background scenes of devastation and horror. The 
tragic experience revealed to France a saint, the most 
accessible, the most practical, the most active of modern 
saints, Vincent de Paul : but even the miracles of his char- 
ity could not cope with the ruin of the kingdom. Mean- 
while, Mazarin was piling up tremendous wealth, and 
Fouquet, the superintendent of finances, could give on his 
estate at Vaux a foretaste of the future splendours of 
Versailles. When Louis XIV came to power, the diplo- 
matic and political position of France was more favour- 
able than it had ever been : but, economically, the kingdom 
was in a dilapidated condition. Colbert's gloomy picture 
of the state of affairs, which he drew repeatedly and com- 
placently for Louis XIV, is open to suspicion: he no 
doubt wanted to enhance the magnitude of his task and 
the genuine greatness of his achievements. But his testi- 
mony is confirmed by many others : it was hardly possible 
to exaggerate the evil. This evil Colbert mitigated, if 
he could not cure it. The solid magnificence of the Grand 

174 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

Monarch would have been impossible without the admin- 
istrative genius, the absolute devotion to his work, the 
coarse and harsh vigour of his great minister. 


Colbert sprang directly from the commercial class : his 
father had been a clothier at Rheims, and the young man 
may have learned the principles of trade from him, and 
from his uncle, a rich merchant. Colbert's father, how- 
ever, was a "bourgeois gentilhomme" like the rest : he had 
purchased a nominal office of King's Secretary as a first 
upward step in the social scale. The son entered the ser- 
vice of Mazarin, won the confidence of the wily Cardinal, 
and successfully managed for him his scandalously over- 
grown fortune. Mazarin "bequeathed Colbert to the 
King" as a faithful and able servant. 

The fall of Fouquet, in 1661, gave free scope to Col- 
bert's ambition. He took care that his predecessor should 
never be able to rise again: he prosecuted him with a 
rigour bordering on ferocity, and which was not purely 
inspired by virtuous indignation. There is no question, 
however, but the Superintendent had been a "grafter" in 
the grandest manner of the classical age. He had friends 
among the aristocracy (Madame de Sevigne was one) ; 
among poets (Lafontaine never shone to better advan- 
tage) ; and, what was more to the point, among his judges 
in Parliament. The powerful secret cabal of the devout, 
strangely enough, supported him. Colbert's exertions, 
therefore, were not superfluous: and the new regime 
needed such a magnificent victim, as a symbol of its de- 
termination and power. With Fouquet out of the way, 
the rise of Colbert was immediate, and his ascendancy 
complete. In 1661, he was already in charge of finances 
and of naval aff airs ; in 1664, he became Superintendent 
of Buildings, Fine Arts, Tapestries and Royal Manufac- 
tures ; in the same year, Superintendent General of Com- 
merce; in 1665, Comptroller General of Finances a more 
brilliant title for the position he had been filling since 

Seventeenth-Century Economic Conditions 175 

1661 ; in 1669, Secretary of State for the King's House- 
hold, and Secretary of the Navy. It may be said that 
until his death in 1683, the whole economic system of 
France was in his hand. Colbert believed that the la- 
bourer is worthy of his hire, and set his own price very 
high: not only did he secure for himself all the great 
functions that were to his liking, but he showered on his 
whole connection wealth and titles: the clan of the Col- 
berts became a social power even among the highest aris- 

The name of Colbert is inseparable from the notion of 
a national economy: he was the first statesman of note to 
think in economic terms and on a national scale. We have 
seen that in the sixteenth century and in the first part of 
the seventeenth, the economic unit was not even the prov- 
ince, but the small natural district, the pays: Colbert saw 
France as a whole. Sully had been a careful manager 
of the King's resources : but he still thought of the King's 
fortune as a large private estate, and his ideal did not go 
far beyond hoarding a few millions in gold : Colbert iden- 
tified France with the monarchy, and wanted to enrich 
the whole country for the greater glory of the sovereign. 

There are many different aspects of Colbertism. First 
of all, it meant order, efficiency, economy, in the adminis- 
tration of public finances: in other terms s the exact re- 
verse of what Fouquet and his associates had stood for. 
Then, carrying the same truly classical notion of order 
and discipline into the realm of production, Colbertism 
meant organization, "rationalization," as the French now 
call it, the suppression within the kingdom of obstacles 
to economic development, and the coordination of efforts. 
This sharply defined conception of France as a unit im- 
plied rivalry against other national units: defensive and 
aggressive campaigns in the marts of the world, trade po- 
sitions to be besieged and carried by storm like fortresses, 
a bid for financial victory and supremacy. Colbertism 
thus stands most clearly for that kind of patriotism or 
protectionism which holds that our neighbours' gain 
must of necessity be our loss. Finally the national state 

176 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

and the economic state being one and the same, it is the 
government's duty not merely to defend industry and 
trade against foreign competition, but to regulate them, 
to supervise them, and actively to foster them by all con- 
ceivable means: hence the creation of great trading com- 
panies and of royal manufactures under the direct in- 
spiration of the crown. 

These various forms of Colbertism were unequally 
successful, because they were not equally supported by 
those chiefly interested the King, the merchants, the 
nation at large. It was as a rigid administrator of 
finances that Colbert did his best work: in this, the King 
was heartily with him, and although his methods were fre- 
quently harsh and at times unscrupulous, France realized 
that he was working for the public good. It was neces- 
sary, first of all, to liquidate the ruinous anarchy of the 
Mazarin regime that Mazarin whom Colbert himself had 
served so faithfully. The condemnation of Fouquet was 
a first lesson, a decisive reply to the arrogant motto : Quo 
non ascendam? A special Chamber of Justice failed to 
punish adequately the men who had plundered the State : 
but it brought about a general clearing up of accounts. 
More than four hundred financiers were compelled to dis- 
gorge: the King's domain grew with the proceeds of con- 
fiscation; and sources of royal income that had long been 
mortgaged were recovered. 

Colbert seemed to consider the rentiers or holders of 
State funds as among the profiteers from whom the State 
had to recapture illegitimate profits. Such a state of 
mind is still current among revolutionists, but it seems 
strange in the practical minister of a conservative mon- 
archy. The rentiers, no doubt, had sought to take ad- 
vantage of the difficulties of the government, and had 
driven a hard bargain: Colbert wanted to get even with 
them. He never was so happy as when he could find some 
excuse for a partial bankruptcy ; it was a personal victory 
for him when he managed to reduce either the interest or 
the capital of the rentes. The high hand may succeed, if 
it be also a strong hand: the rentiers* dismayed but re- 

Seventeenth-Century Economic Conditions 177 

spectful, accepted the curtailment of their claims, almost 
thankful that it was not worse. 

A weak government may evade part of its debt : but it 
takes a vigorous government to do so, and at the same 
time to restore confidence. This Colbert achieved, partly, 
through the introduction of business methods : almost for 
the first time, the monarchy kept accounts like a business 
firm. Perhaps Colbert's ledgers were Impressive rather 
than accurate : his successor complained that they were far 
from clear, and not in strict agreement with the facts. 
But successors are proverbially censorious: the very at- 
tempt, at any rate, was a step in the right direction. 
Louis XIV knew, roughly, the state of his finances as very 
few of his predecessors had done. This knowledge, how- 
ever, does not seem to have seriously affected his manage- 
ment of affairs : Louis XIV was extravagant with his eyes 
open, whilst Francis I had been extravagant with his eyes 
closed. Colbert was there to provide for everything. 

Through a better administration of the vast; royal do- 
main, through more careful methods of apportioning and 
collecting the old-established taxes, Colbert succeeded in 
greatly increasing the revenue of the King, without im- 
posing upon the people an intolerable burden. He even 
managed to reduce the taille y the most iniquitous of taxes, 
in so far as it was paid almost exclusively by the peasants. 
But this faint attempt at social justice brought very little 
relief to the poorest classes. Colbert's fiscal work was 
made up of efficiency in practical details, palliatives, ex- 
pedients. The broad reforms that he dreamed of, and 
which could have given a permanent foundation to the 
finances of the monarchy, were beyond his reach. 


For he did dream of a reform, and even of a revolution. 
He was a Cartesian at heart, a thorough-going ration- 
alist, a lover of logic, simplicity, symmetry. The rich 
confusion of local traditions, in trade, taxes, legislation, 
weights and measures, appealed to him not at all. In his 

178 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

eyes, they were simply causes of inefficiency. He would 
have liked to do away with internal custom barriers, with 
ubiquitous tolls, with the privileges of provinces, cities, 
classes and crafts. We could easily imagine him, at the 
time of the Revolution, hacking down all those survivals 
with the somber zeal of a Jacobin; and, under Napoleon, 
rebuilding on the space thus cleared a vast and well-pro- 
portioned edifice. There was in that servant of Mazarin 
and Louis XIV a radical as well as a time-server. The 
radical in him was defeated. There was no public opinion 
yet to support him: even a hundred years later, public 
opinion failed Turgot in his great struggle. And, in this 
respect, Louis XIV was not with Colbert. Louis, as we 
have seen, was not a Cartesian radical, but the classical 
compromise incarnate: a lover of order, yet respectful of 
tradition; not a worshipper of abstract reason, but "rea- 
sonable" only in that sense that excesses and sudden 
changes were distasteful to him. The grand scheme of 
Colbert for a total reconstruction of France's economic 
structure remained a series of mere indications and vellei- 

But the failures and the velleities of a man like Colbert 
leave a deeper imprint on history than the achievements 
of lesser men. Colbert could not abolish the distinction 
between the old provinces, 1 the later acquisitions, not yet 
thoroughly assimilated, and such lands as the Three Bish- 
oprics and Alsace, which were wholly outside the custom 
system of France. But he did consolidate a number of 
dues and simplified their collection. And he issued great 
ordinances, carefully prepared by specialists, which were 
veritable codes. The Ordinances on Commerce, in 1673, 
remained in force until the end of the ancient regime, and 
was to a large extent the basis of the Napoleonic Code of 
Commerce in 1807. His organization of the seafaring 
population of France, under the name of Inscription 
Maritime, survived almost unaltered up to the twentieth 
century. His General Edict on Streams and Forests 

1 Known in this respect as Territory of the Five Big Contracting 
Companies, les cinq grosses fermes. 

Seventeenth-Century Economic Conditions 179 

(1669) was systematically and almost absurdly rigorous. 
The Colonial Code, or Black Code, appeared after his 
death, in 1685. 

Although economic affairs were Colbert's chief interest 
and his special domain, his reforming zeal extended to the 
whole of legislation. It was he who urged the King to 
be "a new Justinian"; in this he had to encounter the 
hostility of the Parliament, that impregnable fortress of 
privilege and precedent. Piissort, Colbert's collaborator, 
in the Ordinance or Civil Code of 166T, could only secure 
a very partial modernization of procedure: in Boileau's 
terms, he only "pared the claws of Chicanery. 35 Just as 
finances, under Colbert and after him, became a trifle more 
intelligible, legislation, thanks to him, was perceptibly 
less chaotic. It was not a victory, but it was a promise. 
Colbert's ideal was not to ripen for another hundred 
years. Colbert was not "ahead of his time" : the need for 
reform was bitter enough in 1661. It was the Parlia- 
ment, and the other representatives of privilege, who were 
behind the time ; and the King, "reasonable" rather than 
far-sighted, supported him only half-heartedly. 

Even the mercantilism of Colbert was in the grand 
style of the age. He wanted France to be united and 
organized for production, but his goal was not wealth and 
well-being for their own sake: it was power, majesty, 
magnificence. By means very different from those of 
Louvois, the war minister, he too desired to make his sov- 
ereign "the most glorious king in the world." In his 
mind, the dynasty, the state, the people were one, as 
clearly as they were one in the mind of Louis XIV him- 
self. So economic life was inseparable from dynastic and 
national patriotism: it appeared to him in the double 
terms of strict subordination of the individual at home, 
and, beyond the nation's boundaries, "sacred egoism," 
pitiless war against all rivals. This does not seem so far 
removed from the ideal of Italian Fascism. 

Colbert's conception of the world was a static one. In 
his opinion, population and natural resources were prac- 
tically fixed quantities. There was therefore only a cer- 

180 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

tain amount of trade possible, and a limited quantity of 
wealth in circulation. You had to fight for your share: 
in such a world, no one could grow rich except at the ex- 
pense of his competitors. The fabulous prosperity of the 
Dutch was a theft against the rest of Europe. The in- 
definite expansion of riches through discoveries and new 
processes, the parallel multiplication of the tokens of 
wealth through credit, had no place in his system. He 
was haunted with the superstition of gold: to be rich, for 
a man or for a nation, was to hoard specie. To buy for 
cash from a foreigner was a defeat, a capitulation, almost 
an act of treason; Colbert rebuked traders from Mar- 
seilles, who were guilty of leaving French gold in the 
Levant. To sell abroad for cash, on the contrary, and 
add to one's hoard, was a victory. Colbert did not invent 
protection (with a lurking desire for the absolute pro- 
hibition of imports), nor the craving for cash payment. 
But with him, these tendencies became dogmas : more than 
dogmas, they were passions. There are few Frenchmen 
to-day, and possibly fewer Americans, who are not Col- 
bertists at heart. Only two French sovereigns took de- 
cisive steps in the direction of freer trade : Louis XVI in 
1786, Napoleon III in 1860: in both cases, the results of 
the experiment were doubtful ; and, as was to be expected, 
the complaints were much louder than the praises. 

It is easy enough to criticize the selfishness of these 
conceptions. Nationalism is not enough, as we all know; 
but it may be vindicated as a broadening of the horizon, 
compared with the parochialism of a purely local econ- 
omy. When Colbert found it impossible to burst open 
the barriers between Burgundy, Franche-Comte and Al- 
sace, he can hardly be blamed for not having clearly 
before his eyes a European custom union which, two cen- 
turies and a half after his time, is still a Utopia. 

At any rate, he stood squarely, and almost alone, 
against the "anti-economic prejudice.* 5 This indefatiga- 
ble worker hated and scorned all forms of idleness and 
parasitism. He chided one city after another as addicted 
to laziness: he was the national foreman who wanted to 

Seventeenth-Century Economic Conditions 181 

see every one busy. He had no use for courtiers, who 
heartily returned the compliment : few men were less pop- 
ular than this great servant of France, and it is a tribute 
to Louis XIVs fine sense of his national responsibilities 
that, in spite of so much hostility, Colbert's position never 
was seriously threatened. He scorned those office-holders 
who had purchased sinecures and were levying tolls on 
the actual producers. He had little love or regard, as we 
have seen, for the rentiers who had lent their money to 
the state : at heart, they were slackers who wanted to play 
safe, and to work as little as possible. He sought to re- 
duce the vast horde of judges and lawyers with their in- 
numerable retainers : there again, there was flagrant waste 
and parasitism. Although he could not freely express 
himself, in a period of orthodoxy and even of clericalism, 
he lamented the excessive number of priests, nuns and 
monks. He would have liked to postpone the age of ordi- 
nation till 27, in order to thin the plethoric ranks of the 
clergy. He envied Holland for being free from such 
"unproductive elements." He urged the King to grant 
some social recognition to merchants, to call the most 
notable of them into consultation, to order that, when 
they obeyed the summons, they be suitably accommo- 
dated, to grace their manufactures with a royal visit and 
a nod of approval. 

His work was not limited to efficient administration, 
removal of obstacles, codification and regulation, protec- 
tion: all these were passive measures, and he felt that it 
was the duty of the Government to lead. Under the guise 
of commercial legislation, he fostered or even imposed the 
methods which he thought best: his Ordinance on Dyes, 
for instance, was actually an exhaustive treatise on the 
processes of the trade. He created or developed great 
economic organisms, trading companies, industrial com- 
bines, royal manufactures. Yet he did not boldly profess 
paternalism as a doctrine: he did at least lip service to 
the ideal of liberty. It may be that, if the upper classes 

182 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

had not been hampered by the anti-economic prejudice, 
Colbert, contenting himself with the supervision of com- 
merce and industry, would have welcomed private initia- 
tive. But the French, very different from the Italians, 
the Dutch or the English, had to be coaxed or even 
coerced into the economic field. If Colbert's practices do 
not agree with some of his words, they are in perfect 
harmony with his temperament. He was energetic, he was 
autocratic, and under any circumstances, he could hardly 
have refrained from intervention. 

Henry IV and Richelieu had already fostered coloniza- 
tion: but their efforts had been spasmodic. Colbert was 
more persistent and more practical He founded great 
monopolistic Companies, with extensive privileges. The 
King himself subscribed to their capital, and urged or 
compelled his courtiers to do likewise : he gave them formal 
assurance that, in so doing, they would not lose caste. 
There was a Company of the East Indies, one of the West 
Indies, one of the North, one of the Levant, and many 
minor ones. Not one of them prospered: not one could 
compare with the Dutch companies. The spirit of mo- 
nopoly and magnificence hindered economic progress. 
There was inefficiency at the top: most of these bodies 
were administered from Paris, and Paris, then as now, 
was indifferent to maritime trade. Colbertism, in that 
line, was a sore disappointment. Perhaps it was not as 
complete a failure as it seemed : the great development of 
the colonies and of oversea commerce in the eighteenth 
century may be partly due to the long and painful prep- 
aration under Colbert. He sowed, and did not reap : this 
much is certain. But we are not quite sure whether he 
sowed the right seed. 

The State, under Colbert, took an active hand in indus- 
try. This intervention assumed different forms. There 
were a few Royal Manufactures, owned outright by the 
Government, working exclusively for the King, and even, 
like Les Gobelins, operated directly by his officials. The 
principal of these were naval establishments at Brest, 
Toulon, Rochefort, and workshops which supplied the 

Seventeenth-Century Economic Conditions 183 

royal palaces with their luxurious decoration. Of the lat- 
ter, Beauvais and La Savonnerle are well known, but they 
are eclipsed by the glory of Les Gobelins. Les Gobe- 
lins were founded by Henry IV, that true forerunner of 
Colbert: but it was Colbert who made it a State institu- 
tion, and expanded it into a great center of decorative 
art. To the weavers of tapestries, who had already made 
it famous* he added goldsmiths, engravers, lapidaries, 
cabinet makers* Le Brun was the Director, and imposed 
indef atigably upon the whole production Ms rather formal 
and pompous style. 

In other cases, manufactures founded by the King and 
encouraged by him, but under private ownership and 
management, retained the right of stamping their prod- 
ucts with the royal arms. Others simply enjoyed some 
privilege or benefit granted by the King : monopolies, sub- 
sidies, free loans, fiscal exemptions. Such inducements 
were offered, in particular, when the Government wanted 
to attract managers or artisans from abroad. Thus min- 
ers and brass founders from Sweden were tempted by 
sundry advantages to settle in France. Italians brought 
the art of crape making, and, from Venice, the plate glass 
and mirror industry, which still thrives at St. Gobain. 
Van Robais, a Dutch Protestant, was granted many fa- 
vours, including the free exercise of his religion, for es- 
tablishing at Abbeville a manufacture of fine cloth. Col- 
bert did not believe in the golden rule: whilst trying to 
bribe foreign workmen to come to France, he was very 
indignant when French workmen planned to emigrate. 
Through this constant quest for trade secrets, through his 
conviction that nothing was done abroad which the French 
could not do just as well, Colbert mitigated the greatest 
danger of the old guild system and of his own paternal- 
ism, namely stagnation. With him, no trade could rest 
content with "the good old way" if a better way were 
found. The supremacy attained by France, under Louis 
XV, in the industries of luxury, a supremacy never 
wholly forfeited, owes much to that tireless, lynx-eyed, 
progressive taskmaster. 

184 The Life and Death of an Ideal 


The beginnings of capitalism and concentrated indus- 
try may be traced in seventeenth century France: but 
they are very faint. Even in some of the large combines, 
like the Manufacture of French Lace (Point de France) , 
the actual work was still done in individual homes ; only 
in rare cases some big foundries and textile mills do 
we find the use of machinery, with a number of hands in 
the same shop, and a definite division of labour. At any 
rate, the contemporaries were not conscious of any great 

On the whole, Colbert's life work was not crowned with 
success. His efficient administration of finances made the 
splendour of the reign possible: but the inveterate prodi- 
gality of the court and the never-ending wars upset his 
cherished plans for economy. The great reforms he had 
in mind, the vast simplification of legislation, the bold 
reorganization of trade, remained woefully incomplete: 
the upholders of tradition were too keen in the defence of 
their vested interests, and the King was indifferent. The 
economic conquests he undertook were precarious; his 
trading companies were vegetating ; even his royal manu- 
factures failed to give him full satisfaction. France had 
not heeded "the off er of Colbert/' as Ernest Lavisse calls 
it: the offer to enrich King and country through inces- 
sant, well-coordinated, forward-looking efforts. The anti- 
economic prejudice was almost unshaken: Louis XIV was 
glad to have a faithful steward in Colbert, but he had no 
thought of turning himself into a Dutch merchant on a 
grander scale. 

Just after Colbert's death (1683), as soon as his 
roughly efficient hand had ceased to control the clumsy 
and intricate machine, decadence set in again. Other 
causes were at work : the Huguenots, the most industrious 
element in France, left the country in vast numbers, car- 
rying to Holland, Brandenburg and England those trade 
secrets and traditions that Colbert cherished so jealously. 

Seventeenth-Century Economic Conditions 185 

Disastrous wars absorbed an ever larger proportion of 
ever decreasing resources. Bankruptcy once more was 

We know little of the life of the common people, arti- 
sans and peasants, but that little is somber. The local 
rebellions that broke out repeatedly under Louis XIV 
were not political in character, and were not organized: 
they have left little trace in historj^ They are significant 
only as the spontaneous uprising of blind despair. They 
were repressed with a ferocity which made even Madame 
de Sevigne blanch: and the charming Marquise was not 
in the habit of wasting her sprightly kindliness on mere 
rustics and jabbering, half -savage Bretons at that! We 
are so familiar with La Bruyere's picture of the peasant 
a picture etched with the tragic vigour of a Callot 
that we are apt to think of it as "mere literature" : "One 
sees in the countryside wild animals, males and females, 
dark, livid, all burnt up by the sun, crouching on the 
ground which they dig and stir with invincible obstinacy ; 
they have something like an articulate voice, and when 
they rise on their feet, they reveal a human face : and in 
fact, they are men. They retire at night into their lairs, 
where they live on black bread, water and roots. . . J* 
This sounds like the mouthings of a socialist agitator: 
yet La Bruyere was as moderate as he was keen, and 
modern research has not softened the lines of his descrip- 
tion. Colbert, harsh as he was, and a bourgeois, did think 
of the peasants, enquired about their comforts, and even 
their amusements : but he could do very little for them. 
This failure is the obverse, and the indictment, of the 
splendid civilization that created Versailles. 



I. The Golden Age of French Catholicism. Gallicamsm: 
autonomy without schism. Declaration of 1682. Constant ambi- 
guity of the King's position. 

II. Revival of Piety: Louis XIII and Louis XIV both pious. 
Preparation for a Christian death the acme of savoir-vivre. Re- 
form of religious orders; new creations. The Company of the 
Holy Sacrament. 

III. Jansenism: Its significance. The Arnaulds, St. Cyran, 
Jansenius and his Augustlnus> Pascal and his Provinciales. 
Christian Stoicism. Duel with the Jesuits. Persecution. 

IV. Quietism. Madame Guyon and the Molinists. Fenelon 
and Bossuet. 

V. The Protestants. Treated fairly by Henry IV, Bichelieu, 
Mazarin 5 Colbert. Campaign of conversion: its success among 
the aristocracy; Turenne. Policy of strict construction. Open 
persecution after 1679. Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 
1685. Its Consequences. 

VI. Religious Free-Thought. The "Libertines" persecuted. 
Underlying Paganism of the Classical Age: Moliere. Pascal's 
counterblast: Thoughts. 

THE seventeenth century is the golden age of French 
Catholicism. In the ecclesiastical field as in the 
political, a great effort was made to restore decency 
and discipline. There also, the classical synthesis, or 
compromise, prevailed: authority, without which order 
was then inconceivable, was based jointly upon tradition 
and upon reason. No reform can be imposed upon a 
large body of men without entailing much formalism and 
even some hypocrisy: but the fundamental sincerity, the 
earnestness, the practical activity of the seventeenth cen- 
tury in religious affairs can not be doubted. All classes 
were affected, kings, nobles and bourgeois. Old monas- 
tic orders were purified and revivified; new ones sprang 


Eeligion in the Seventeenth Century 187 

into life; charity received a splendid impetus; Christian 
education was fostered in all its degrees ; in historical re- 
search, in philosophy, in literature, religion played a 
leading part. The zeal of the French Catholics went far 
beyond the national frontiers, and was manifested in 
world-wide missions, from China to North America. Even 
the strange flame of mysticism was not lacking in that age 
of solid common sense and classical moderation : the cen- 
tury of Descartes is also that of Pascal and of Marie 

Yet, in this domain also, we shall find that the craving 
for discipline and for the majesty of peace was destined 
to remain unsatisfied : classicism is an ideal rather than an 
achievement. Spiritual life would abdicate none of its 
complexity: the sustained effort for unity ended in weari- 
ness. It was an exhausted Catholicism that was left to 
meet, in the eighteenth century, the onslaught of "Phi- 
losophy. 55 

The revival of Catholicism after the great scourge of 
the Reformation was, of course, not limited to France. 
The Church as a whole organized herself for defence and 
counter-attack. As early as 1535, the Jesuits were cre- 
ated as "the militia of the Holy See"; and the Council of 
Trent slowly built up the doctrinal and disciplinary en- 
trenchments which were never to be surrendered. But 
this militant movement had, very naturally, its center in 
Home; it enhanced the prestige and strengthened the 
hands of the Papacy; and for that reason, it was not 
followed with unqualified enthusiasm by the French Cath- 
olics. The canons of the Council of Trent were not re- 
ceived in France without difficulty: the Parliament was 
irreconcilable in its opposition. The Jesuits were not wel- 
come as the leaders of the new Catholic crusade: they 
were viewed with suspicion and dread, as the enemies of 
the ancient liberties of the Gallican Church. At first, ac- 
cused of condoning and even encouraging regicide, they 
were under the bann; but even after they had brought 

188 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Henry IV over to their side, they were not universally 
trusted. Brilliantly successful as educators, they won the 
affection of their pupils even of such a pupil as Vol- 
taire! Yet public opinion, in the seventeenth century, in 
the eighteenth, in the nineteenth, was only too willing to 
believe the worst of a Jesuit. As confessors of the King, 
some of them wielded great influence: but they could do 
so only by giving up some of their ultramontanism, and 
by refraining from any overt attack on the prevailing 
Gallican tendency. 

There was therefore in the mind of Prance, "eldest 
daughter of the Church," as in the counsels of the King's 
"Most Christian Majesty" a secret current of hostility 
against the Court of Rome. This fact complicates the 
study of all religious problems : for Gallicanism, a vexing 
issue in itself, could be injected into any other issue. 
And, to heighten confusion, Gallicanism was a spirit, a 
policy, a tradition, but hardly a doctrine that could be 
definitely formulated. The King, the clergy and the 
Parliament were all Gallicans: but they were not Galil- 
eans quite in the same fashion. One thing only they had 
in common : they would have recoiled with the same horror 
before the natural consequence of their Gallicanism, 
namely the possibility of a schism. 

It was in 1682 that such a possibility loomed most dan- 
gerously. Louis was at the height of his pride and 
power; the Pope, Innocent XI, was unyielding, as only 
saints can afford to be. The two autocracies, both partly 
spiritual and partly temporal, faced each other with 
angry defiance. The English Ambassador was prophesy- 
ing that soon England and Prance would have the same 
kind of religion. Bossuet was the natural leader of the 
French Church and the spokesman of the King. It fell 
to his lot to draw up, for the Assembly of the Clergy, a 
declaration which was a challenging statement of the Gal- 
lican position. In matters temporal, the Pope was denied 
all power, direct or indirect, over the King. In matters 
spiritual, the General Council, not the Pope, was recog- 
nized as supreme. The rules, usages and statutes ad- 

Religion in tlie Seventeenth Century 189 

mitted by the realm and the Church of France were to 
remain unshaken. The Parliament endorsed these propo- 
sitions: they became the law of the land, and as such, 
were ordered to be taught in all seminaries. They never 
were officially repealed. Even the Revolution did not end 
them: in 1802, Napoleon tagged them on, of his own au- 
thority, to his Concordat. 

But the clergy, whilst loyally following the King, was 
averse to a rupture with the Pope. Bossuet himself was 
no radical : in his "keynote sermon" on The Unity of the 
Church 9 he had performed a prodigy of equilibrium ; his 
one desire was for conciliation. The King, persecuting 
the Protestants, had no thought of playing the part of 
Henry VIII and launching a new Protestant Church. 
Rome showed the patience of the eternal : the Declaration 
of 1682, never accepted of course, not even tacitly, was 
not formally condemned and annulled until nine years 
later, when irritation had been allayed. In 1693, Bos- 
suet, again at the command of Louis, drew up a retrac- 
tation to be signed by those Bishops whom the King had 
appointed, but to whom the Pope had denied his investi- 
ture. This compromise, which might be termed a royal 
capitulation, ended the deadlock, but did not clear up the 
ambiguity. Gallicanism remained officially condemned in 
Rome, officially enforced in Paris. No one knew exactly 
whether, at any moment, the King would stand by the 
Holy Father or by his own Courts of Justice. And the 
two parties, contending with mellifluous acrimony, were 
officially on the best of terms. The French, and particu- 
larly the fine old families of the Parliamentary aristoc- 
racy, were within the army of Catholicism like the veter- 
ans of Napoleon, devoted grumblers. 


There were sturdy virtues in Gallicanism: but their 
manifestations were frequently disagreeable. It is a 
great relief to turn from this confused wrangling to the 
positive achievements of Catholicism. When the virus of 

190 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

political contention was eliminated, in 1598, a new spirit 
of earnest piety prevailed. The Kings themselves were 
affected. No sovereign in the sixteenth century can be 
described as devout: but the term admirably applies to 
Louis XIII and to Louis XIV. Even Henry IV had to 
tone down his good-humoured scepticism. Probe his con- 
science we can not: but the man who had said: "Paris is 
well worth a mass" spoke and acted thereafter as though 
he had always been an obedient son of the Church. With 
Louis XIII, no hesitation is permissible : he was almost a 
monk on the throne, and read his Hours as sedulously as 
If he had been in a cloister. His Christian conception of 
kingship was manifested in his devotion to the memory of 
St. Louis, whose feast became a great Church holiday. 
In 1638, he placed his realm under the special protection 
of the Virgin. His death, according to Vincent de Paul, 
was that of a saint. Louis XIV, brought up by a Spanish 
princess, practiced his religion with meticulous care, even 
in those years when his mode of living was very different 
from the Christian ideal, even when he was protecting 
Moliere and frowning upon the "Cabal of the Devout." 
The intense, almost bigoted Catholicism of his later years 
was not a totally new element, due to the influence of old 
age and Madame de Maintenon: it was the final victory 
of forces which had existed in him from the first. He was 
the descendant of Philip II of Spain as well as of Henry 
of Navarre : the shadow of the Escorial can be traced over 
the splendour of Versailles. 

Prance did not, slavishly and hypocritically, follow the 
ageing King in his return to religious life : his conversion 
had been preceded by many others, in all ranks of so- 
ciety. Arnauld d'Andilly, a Court favourite, had retired 
to Port-Royal as early as 1646. The Prince de Conti, 
who had been something of a rake, became a rather un- 
lovely bigot. But other conversions did not offer this ob- 
jectionable feature. Not only did nominal Catholics be- 
come practicing Catholics : but their practices, as a rule, 
far from benumbing their spiritual life, made it richer. 
That change of heart, that deepening of inner experience. 

Religion in the Seventeenth Century 191 

that immediacy of intercourse with the divine, which cer- 
tain Protestant Churches claim as their monopoly, were 
of common occurrence in classical France. When the 
lovely Duchess de la Valliere retired to a convent as Sister 
Louise de la Misericorde, she was not driven by worldly 
despair, she was obeying an inner call. In the case of 
Pascal, we find, not a single conversion, but a whole series 
of conversions, a vertiginous ascent which carried him at 
last to the throne of grace. It is significant that the two 
great tragic poets of the time, Corneille and Racine, 
should both withdraw from the stage and plan to devote 
themselves to the care of their souls. To prepare for a 
Christian death was then the flower of savoir-vivre. 

"Can a faith which is not active be a sincere faith?" 
queries Corneille in Polyeucte. The faith of the seven- 
teenth century was active. This activity revealed itself 
strikingly in the reformation of religious orders and the 
creation of new ones. The Carmelites were introduced 
from Spain. St. Fran?ois de Sales, whose Introduction 
to Devout Life ranked at the time as a second Imitation, 
established the Sisters of the Visitation: his original in- 
tention was they should not be cloistered, but should go 
into the world and minister to the sick. This ideal was 
realized by St. Vincent de Paul. He was the universal 
hero of charity. Galley slaves, prisoners of the Barbary 
pirates, foundlings, victims of the Fronde, all engaged his 
ardent and practical zeal. He left, as a priceless legacy, 
the Sisters of Charity. 

Others devoted themselves to education. Berulle founded 
his Oratory (1611), which at first was to be a center of 
meditation and study rather than a congregation. The 
Oratory deeply influenced the whole intellectual life of 
France: Malebranche, who attempted to reconcile Chris- 
tian orthodoxy with Cartesian rationalism, was an Ora- 
torian. Olier, who created the Seminary of St. Sulpice, 
for so long a great light in the Catholic world, found in- 
spiration and support in the Oratory, and so did many 
others. The "Little Schools" of Port-Royal, and, at the 
end of the century, the Institute of the Brothers of the 

192 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Christian Schools (St. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle) ? reveal 
the same spirit. 

The reform of Port-Royal is part of that great revival 
of earnestness in the Catholic Church. That abbey had 
become hardly more than a pleasant country home for the 
large Arnaidd connection, when the young Abbess, 
Mother Angelique (Arnauld) restored the austerity of 
its rule. The spirit of Christian stoicism which was to 
make Port-Royal famous, existed before the group was 
committed to the theology of Jansenius. Later we find 
the conversion of Ranee, a man of the world who, since 
1636, had been the nominal Abbot of a decadent monas- 
tery in Normandy. This, in 1662, he sought to revivify. 
He found some of his monks hardened in their sloth, and 
simply pensioned them off. With the rest, and with a 
few recruits as ardent as himself, he started the order of 
Trappists, one of the most rigorously ascetic in modern 

In 1627, a Peer of the Realm, Henri de Levis, Duke of 
Ventadour, was inspired with the idea of creating, among 
laymen as well as priests, a secret society for the promo- 
tion of Catholic interests. This group took the name of 
Company of the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. It was 
devoted to all good works of edification and charity : but 
it was also a combative organization, fighting anti-Chris- 
tian abuses such as blasphemy and duelling. Although 
its motives were unimpeachable, the mystery with which 
it was surrounded, its underground methods, and a perti- 
nacity which at times amounted to ruthlessness, made it 
extremely unpopular whenever its influence could be de- 
tected. It was vaguely known as "the Cabal of the De- 
vout," and it seems clear that Moliere had this group in 
mind when he wrote Tartuffe. The Company was too 
earnest not to be intolerant: its campaign against "lib- 
ertinism" (by which free-thought was chiefly meant) did 
not stop short of persecution. Even the workingmen's 
Brotherhoods and Compagnonnages were attacked, for 
their harmless pseudo-religious ritual. The Jansenists, 
although their virtues could not be impugned, were not 

Religion in the Seventeenth Century 193 

spared. Drastic restrictions were urged in the liberties 
still enjoyed by the Protestants, and it may be said that 
the Cabal sighed for the repeal of the hated Edict of 
Nantes. But it did not survive till that day of triumph: 
unauthorized, distrusted by King and Church alike, it 
was dissolved in 1666. The public performance of Tar- 
tuffe in 1669 showed that France would brook no Inquisi- 
tion neither that of the Dominicans, nor that of the 
"Cabal. 95 It must be remembered, in spite of these un- 
pleasant features, that the Company was created with the 
noblest purposes; and that St. Vincent de Paul, most 
charitable of men, Bossuet, a model of robust sanity, were 
among its members. 


Jansenism is a minor heresy, unpopular and obscure; 
the Jansenists a handful of austere and stiff-necked be- 
lievers ; yet our whole conception of France must be dif- 
ferent because Port-Royal existed. Smiling scepticism, 
the gospel of the average sensual man, or the love of 
majestic and formal unity, do not make up the whole of 
the French spirit : by the side of Montaigne and Bossuet, 
there is Pascal. And Pascal was not isolated : he was the 
spokesman of a group. And that group, small and de- 
feated, enlisted widespread, profound and lasting sym- 
pathies. The Jansenist controversy stirred the French 
soul to its depths and affected even the course of the 
French Revolution. 

In 1599, a great Parisian lawyer, Antoine Arnauld, 
secured for his daughter Angelique the Abbey of Port- 
Royal, near Paris. The new "Abbess" was then eight 
years old. But the child was soon affected by the wave of 
religious earnestness which was sweeping over France. 
In 1608, she decided to reform her convent. The pleasant 
laxity which had turned Port-Royal into a sort of country 
seat for the Arnaulds came to an end. At first, the father 
was indignant at this mere chit presuming to "reform" 
without his authority and even against it. But Angelique 

194 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

won the day. The large Arnauld connection (Antoine 
had twenty children) was permeated with the new spirit, 
and Port-Royal became a center of devout austerity. In 
1626, the nuns moved from Port-Royal-in-the-Fields, 
which they found unhealthy, to Paris. The buildings 
thus vacated were turned over to "hermits' 5 or "solita- 
ries," men in harmony with the Port-Royal spirit, and 
who desired to lead a pious life without joining a regular 
order. Some of the nuns came back in 1648, and the 
Solitaries built for themselves modest quarters outside the 
convent walls. "Port-RoyaP thus signifies both a con- 
vent, and a free group of men : the material bond between 
the two was the Arnauld family. 

It was only in 1623 that the convent came under the 
influence of a strange and powerful personage, Du Ver- 
gier de Hauranne, Abbot of St. Cyran. The outside 
world, including Richelieu, revered and distrusted him. 
He was a saint, and he was a mystic : but mystics go their 
lonely and perilous way, and saints are not amenable to 
formal discipline. Among the small cluster of the Port- 
Royalists, St. Cyran was a director and a prophet. St. 
Cyran was keeping in touch with Cornelius Jansen or 
Jansenius, Bishop of Ypres (1585-1636), and through 
him the doctrine which was to be called Jansenism took 
hold of Port-Royal. 

Jansenius disclaimed any originality: his posthumous 
book Augustinus (1640) purported to be a mere abstract 
of St. Augustine's teaching. The essential point was that 
man could be saved only through the grace of God, and 
that such grace need not be vouchsafed to all men. If we 
brush aside theological niceties, we may say that Jan- 
senius taught predestination as definitely as Calvin. But 
lie was strictly orthodox on two fundamental questions: 
his faith in the mystic authority of the Church, and his 
faith in the Eucharist, remained entire. 

The nuns of Port-Royal were not abstract theologians ; 
neither were the hermits. Even the influence of such a 
man as St. Cyran would not have made them accept so 
ardently a difficult doctrine, if it had not been in profound 

Religion in the Seventeenth Century 195 

harmony with their spirit; and that spirit was one of 
Christian heroism. They were Stoics and Puritans 
among Catholics. Jansenism is essentially a creation of 
the moral will, not of the intellect. Repeatedly the same 
tense and proud attitude, the same vigorous and somber 
conception of life, seem to have demanded the same rig- 
orous philosophy: Marcus Aurelius, Calvin, St. Cyran, 
Taine, were souls that would thrive best in an atmosphere 
of tonic despair. They never felt themselves so victori- 
ously free from all human bondage as when they pro- 
claimed themselves the slaves of some superhuman power, 
Fate, Providence, or Scientific Law. 1 

Angelique's brother, named Antoine like his father, 
and known to his contemporaries as "the great Arnauld, 53 
assumed the leadership of the French Jansenists : in open 
battle, concealment or exile, he preserved it till his death 
in 1692. In 1643 appeared his treatise on Frequent 
Communion: a foe to religious laxity, Arnauld felt that 
the Sacrament had been made too easy of access. A pro- 
found spiritual experience might be blurred by constant 
repetition and turned into a mere "practice. 35 In 1649, 
the theological storm broke out. The University of Paris 
condemned five propositions extracted from Jansenius; 
and in 1653 Pope Innocent X confirmed the sentence. 
Arnauld defended himself with the skill of a trained the- 
ologian brought up in a family of lawyers : without fac- 
ing the main issue, he argued on formal points and tech- 
nicalities. The propositions were not found literally in 
Jansenius ; and they did not have in his book the sense 
which his enemies attached to them. Arnauld was con- 
demned, and, in spite of Pascal's masterly pamphlets, the 
Provincial Letters, he was deprived of his degree. This 
was the signal for a persecution which, except for a lull of 
ten years (1669-1679), was not to relent until the last 
nuns were dispersed, the stones of their convent over- 
turned, and the very graves of their friends desecrated. 

The bitterness aroused by this quarrel is no mere odium 

1 Napoleon, the most obvious example of triumphant will power, was 
also a fatalist, a believer in "Destiny 3 ' and "the Force of Things." 

196 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

thedlogicum. It was not so much the beliefs of the Jan- 
senists that excited hatred, as their attitude. After all, 
they were respectful sons of the Church, and they said 
nothing for which they could not adduce the authority of 
St. Paul or St. Augustine. But, in an age of submission, 
they were a reproach and a scandal. 

The struggle assumed the form of a duel between Port- 
Royal and the Jesuits. Hostility against the Jesuits was 
a tradition with the Arnauld family: in 1594, Antoine, 
the father, had delivered a great speech against them, 
which has been called "the original sin" of the family. 
The "little schools 35 of Port-Royal, in which Racine was 
a student, were all too successful, and threatened the edu- 
cational monopoly to which the Jesuits were aspiring. 
Especially was there, between the two parties, a radical 
difference in method. The Jesuits wanted to conquer the 
world, AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM, to be sure, 
but, if need be, by using the world's own weapons. They 
were all things to all men, respecting the caste system in 
India, ancestor worship in China, and the customs of 
polite society at the court of the French Kings. The 
Jansenists, on the other hand, were rigid, uncompromis- 
ing, and condemned the world. 

So Pascal, following the lead of Arnauld, soon brushed 
aside the doctrinal problem. He had gone far enough, 
however, to prove that irony could be applied to theologi- 
cal discussion a lesson which Voltaire learnt only too 
well. The Provincial Letters remain especially as an on- 
slaught, tremendously effective and not wholly ingenuous, 
against the Jesuits. 

These Fathers provided him with deadly weapons 
against themselves. Pascal had only to quote from their 
own treatises, and they stood condemned. As trained con- 
fessors, they had to discuss fine points, at times dan- 
gerously abnormal points of psychology and ethics. As 
practical "directors of conscience," they had to recognize 
the discrepancy that frequently exists between intentions 
and results. They also were led to admit that, in doubt- 
ful issues of spiritual jurisprudence, the opinion of a 
reputable authority had at least some presumption of 

Religion in the Seventeenth Century 197 

"probability" in its favour. None of these admissions but 
was defensible ; in the hands of an unscrupulous director, 
however 3 they might easily lead to the worst degree of 
laxity. Under the names of "casuistry, 55 "direction of 
intention," and "probabilism," they were exposed and 
denounced as though they had been part of a general 
scheme for dominating the world by condoning its vices. 
The Jesuits, in France at least, never quite effaced the 
stigma ; neither did they ever forgive Port-Royal. 

The King, influenced by the Jesuits, was ill-disposed 
towards the Jansenists. He had been taught by Mazarin 
to hate them, for Mazarin considered them as the friends 
and accomplices of the Fronde. Then, in those early 
years of his personal rule, Louis XIV did not like Puri- 
tanism of any sort : we have seen that he discountenanced 
the Company of the Holy Sacrament, whose orthodoxy 
was above suspicion. Finally, he was offended by their 
sturdy independence. These good Christians, the slaves 
of God's will, but of no other, were too much the captains 
of their souls, like their contemporaries the heroes of 
Corneille. Moderate and respectful as they affected to 
be, they made it plain that, in their inmost heart they 
bowed to no outside authority, King or Pope. There was 
something rebellious, almost republican, Miltonic or Sa- 
tanic, about such proud self-reliance. Even if they had 
been wholly right, they should not have stood so stiffly 
erect when every knee was bended. 

As early as 1656, immediately on the condemnation of 
Arnauld, the Hermitage and the schools were broken up. 
The nuns refused to sign a formula of retractation 
(1661), and, from 1664 to 1669, they were under inter- 
dict, whilst Arnauld had to remain in hiding. Through 
Madame de Longueville and Pope Clement IX, a truce 
was arranged (1669), and Arnauld even reappeared at 
Court. But, with the death of their protectress (1679), 
persecution was resumed, and Arnauld had to flee. The 
last act, scattering aged and indomitable nuns into dif- 
ferent convents, and destroying the buildings of Port- 
Royal, took place in 1709-1710. 

But the spirit of Jansenism was not limited to the small 

198 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

group that suffered for its sake. Racine, after a long 
quarrel with Ms masters, had been reconciled with them, 
and tenderly wrote their history. Madame de Sevigne 
adored Nicole, the gentlest of their moralists. Boileau, a 
most moderate man, not ascetic in the least, the reverse 
of a mystic, told a Jesuit that the Provincial Letters were 
the masterpieces of French prose, publicly rejoiced be- 
cause "Arnauld, the great Arnauld" had given him a few 
words of praise, and wrote a noble epitaph for the exiled 
leader* The Parliamentary families were permeated with 
Jansenism: their sincere piety, and their Gallican dread 
of the Jesuits, strengthened each other. Among the 
clergy, even among the Bishops, the Jansenists found 
sympathizers : NoaUles, who became Archbishop of Paris 
in 1695, was their friend. 

So it was ever necessary to kill Jansenism anew. In 
1713, at the urgent request of the King, the Pope issued 
the Bull Unigenitus, which condemned the sect, not on 
five propositions only, but on more than a hundred. But 
a notable part of the clergy, and the Parliament as a 
body, continued to resist. Opposition was not silenced 
even when, in 1730 only, the Bull had been declared the 
law of the land. Worse still, in open disregard of Papal 
and royal policies, miracles were performed on the tomb 
of a Jansenist. The suppression of the Jesuits in France, 
through the undying hostility of the Parliament (1762), 
was a belated revenge of Port-Royal. 


In comparison with the prolonged and intense drama 
of Jansenism, the quarrel about Quietism seems trifling. 
In Quietism as in Jansenism, the will of God is exalted at 
the expense of man's freedom. But Jansenism is a pes- 
simistic and tonic Christian stoicism, whereas Quietism is 
optimistic, and therefore relaxing. God is good, God is 
love: let us rest our hopes in Him. Mystical tendencies 
and Quietism was highly mystical are combated by 
the Church, whose authority they make unnecessary : "the 

Religion in the Seventeenth Century 199 

inner way 55 needs no outer discipline. These tendencies 
are offensive also to the active common sense of the prac- 
tical man, Fenelon had been tempted by Madame Guyon, 
a disciple of the Spaniard Molinos, into the by-paths of 
Quietism. Against him, Bossuet was the doughty cham- 
pion of ecclesiastical authority and plain, workaday mo- 
rality. Fenelon, a nobleman, the incumbent of the 
princely archbishopric of Cambrai, a favourite with 
Rome, was more subtle and more seductive than Bossuet. 
It was hard to get a great prelate condemned for trusting 
overmuch in the love of God. Yet Bossuet was evidently 
upholding the constant tradition of the Church, and he 
triumphed (1695-1699). 

In 1598, France was the only great nation to admit the 
coexistence of different churches. Everywhere else, even 
in England, the faith of the monarch was the law of the 
land. Henry IV had become an excellent Catholic and 
even a friend of the Jesuits : but he had not discarded his 
Huguenot friends, and Sully, in particular, remained his 
right arm. It is possible, however, that Henry IV him- 
self might not have considered the political privileges 
granted by the Edict of Nantes as permanent. These 
privileges were justified, in order to reassure the weaker 
party, at the close of a prolonged and pitiless struggle; 
but it was hardly conceivable that a Protestant Common- 
wealth, with its army and its diplomacy, should be tol- 
erated, under normal conditions, within the kingdom. 
The Protestant uprisings under Louis XIII were semi- 
feudal rather than purely religious in character. They 
were a sign of the relapse into anarchy, from which Riche- 
lieu was to rescue the country. After the siege of La 
Rochelle, the peace of Alais, or Edict of Grace, was not 
vindictive, and confirmed the spiritual rights of the mi- 
nority. Richelieu himself was not only a Prince of the 
Church, but a devout Catholic : however, he felt in honour 
bound to respect, in all essentials, the pledge given by 

00 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Henry IV. The fact that in his rivalry with the great 
Catholic powers, Spain and Austria, he had to rely upon 
Protestant allies, did not wholly determine his policy, but 
naturally inclined him towards toleration. There were 
Protestants at court, and in the highest ranks of the 
army. The Academy which the Cardinal founded had for 
its nucleus the group of friends that used to meet at the 
home of Conrart, and Conrart was a Protestant gentle- 
man. During the Fronde, the Protestants were loyal as 
a whole to the royal cause, and they were rewarded by the 
Declaration of St. Germain, in 1652, which confirmed the 
Edict of Nantes. As they were less affected than the rest 
of the population by the anti-economic prejudice, as they 
kept in closer touch with England and Holland, they 
played an important part in the industrial and commer- 
cial development of France; and for that reason, they 
were treated with fairness and in certain cases even with 
favour by Colbert. 

However, the revival of Catholic piety and the craving 
for unity in all things, so characteristic of the seventeenth 
century, were not favourable to the free expansion of 
Protestantism. The survival of heresy seemed a last ves- 
tige of ancient anarchy : but the end of that scandal was 
to be brought about by missions, and not by means of 
violence. The royal word had been pledged, and, how- 
ever reluctantly, it would be kept. Thus Richelieu him- 
self published a Treatise -for the Conversion of Those Sep- 
arated from the Church. And a vast system of propa- 
ganda was organized, in which bribery supplemented 
more spiritual weapons. 

This humane method did bear fruit. The higher Hu- 
guenot aristocracy in particular gave way. Lomenie, 
Lesdiguieres, Rohan, La Tremoille, Sully, Coligny, all 
these great names followed the Bourbons and the Condes 
into the Catholic fold. A Catholic Estienne was the heir 
of the great dynasty of the Protestant printers. Agrippa 
d'Aubigne, the Huguenot fighter, courtier, memorialist 
and poet, had a granddaughter who, as Madame de Main- 
tenon, was to be the greatest foe of the "so-called Re- 

Religion in the Seventeenth Century 201 

formed Religion. 55 In 1668, Bossuet, who, at Metz and 
in Paris, had done wonders in that work of conversion 
won what seemed to be the crowning victory in the cam- 
paign : Turenne, illustrious as a general and as a prince 
of the highest degree, abjured Protestantism. 

Less legitimate was the policy of "strict construction/* 
which Louis XIV adopted as soon as he assumed personal 
power, in 1661. The Edict was to be respected: but noth- 
ing more than the Edict, interpreted with the most phari- 
saical literalness. Thus the rights of the Protestants were 
whittled down, without any possible redress. Protestant 
schools were closed, and more than a hundred churches 

Especially after 1679, the process of hypocritical sup- 
pression turned into open persecution. It was at that 
time that Louis XIV, always orthodox and even pious, 
was "converted" and became intensely devout. He wanted 
to atone for the scandals of his private life by extirpating 
heresy. He was all the more anxious to give signal evi- 
dence of his religious fervour, as he was then engaged in 
a political and fiscal struggle with the Papacy: he had to 
reassure the French Church and his own conscience. Both 
the Jansenists and the Huguenots paid the price. In 
1682, methods of violence were franHy resorted to by the 
Intendants, acting under royal orders. Quartering dra- 
goons in the home of recalcitrant Huguenots began in 
1684. By 1685, the outward manifestations of the "dis- 
ease" had practically disappeared: officially, there were 
no more Protestants, except a handful of perverse agita- 
tors. And so, amid the acclaim of classical France and 
Catholic Europe, the Edict of Nantes was revoked. 

It was soon discovered that the legal transformation of 
the Huguenots into "New Converts" had not settled the 
matter. A vast exodus took place, amid the severest hard- 
ships. A whole population of grave, educated bourgeois, 
prosperous merchants, skilled artisans, left France. The 
silk industry at Tours, for example, was entirely ruined, 
whilst England, Holland, Brandenburg received with joy 
these valuable recruits. French Huguenot names survive 

202 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

among the Boers of South Africa, and among the most 
anti-French families of the Prussian aristocracy. The 
peasants of the Cevennes mountains rose up in arms, and 
could be quelled only through the skill, diplomatic as well 
as military, of Marshal Villars. Throughout the eigh- 
teenth century, the Protestants had no legal standing, 
and the clergy grumbled constantly at the precarious 
tolerance which enabled them to exist at all. When relief 
came, on the very eve of the Revolution, it was too late. 
The spirit of French Protestantism was never broken: but 
it had ceased to be in harmony with the spirit of the na- 
tion. After 1789, there have been great French Protes- 
tants who were also great patriots : but, as a vital influence 
in French culture, the Huguenots had ceased to count: 
they had ceased to count long before 1685. Catholicism 
did not profit by their defeat, any more than by the de- 
feat of the Jansenists. The result was that free-thought 
became the sole force of opposition to oppressive bigotry : 
Louis XIV paved the way for the Encyclopaedists. 


The seventeenth century was an age of orthodoxy, 
spontaneous, self-imposed or enforced. But the free spirit 
of the Renaissance had not been destroyed: it had only 
been driven underground. From Rabelais and Montaigne 
to Voltaire, the tradition is unbroken. 

Throughout the period, we hear of the "Libertines." 
The word is purposely ambiguous. It had been used in 
the sixteenth century to denote a sect which Calvin com- 
bated with the utmost rigour. In the seventeenth, it could 
mean anything from reasonable freedom in thought and 
action, down to blatant atheism and debauchery. This 
wilful confusion is an old device, which still serves ; but 
the orthodox were not solely responsible for it. They 
called freedom licentiousness: but debauchees, on the 
other hand, loved to cover their vices with the cloak of 
philosophical liberty. Men like Theophile de Viau a 
genuine poet, for all his sins and Des Barreaux, com- 

Religion in the Seventeenth Century 203 

bined loose living and a diseased fondness for obscene 
writing "with a rather crude audacity in religious matters* 
The redoubtable courtesan Ninon de PEnclos was a free- 
thinker as well as a free-lover ; and it is an odd coincidence 
that in her extreme old age, she should hare made a 
trifling gift to the boy Voltaire. This confusion was con- 
firmed in the early eighteenth century, by the example of 
the dissolute scoffers who rallied round Vendome at the 
Temple, or round Philip, Duke of Orleans and Regent of 
France, The connection between immorality and free- 
thought is not an inevitable one* Many orthodox people 
were no saints : Mazarin and Louis XIV himself are in- 
stances in point. The trial of Madame de Brinvilliers, 
the famous poisoner, revealed abysses of wickedness under 
the decorum of courtly and Christian life ; even the King's 
most intimate circle was not spared, and Madame de 
Montespan, the royal favourite, was compromised in the 
scandal. All these vices and crimes could not be ascribed 
to free-thought : the elements of magic and devil-worship 
that came to light were rather evidences of superstition, 
that is to say of inverted orthodoxy. Still, branding in- 
dependent thinkers as moral perverts was too convenient 
a weapon to be easily given up. Jesuits, Parliament, 
Company of the Holy Sacrament, divided on other points, 
united in the campaign against Libertinism. Jansenists 
and Huguenots nodded assent. "Blasphemers" were 
scourged, branded, sent to the galleys, hanged 3 quartered 
or burned. And a very mild form of theism might be 
considered as "blasphemous. 3 ' The Anti-Bigot, or the 
Deist's Quatrains (1622) was mentioned with bated 
breath as a horrific document: to-day, it seems harmless 
enough, and impresses us only with its insufferable dul- 

ness. 1 

Yet the orthodox were not wrong: what these poor 
Quatrains taught in such trite and uninspiring fashion 
was the arch-heresy, and worse than heresy, Natural Re- 
ligion, which sweeps away the claims of tradition and of 
revelation itself. Open infidelity was rare, and could eas- 

*Te3ct in F, Lachfcvre, Le Proc&s dti Pobte ThtopUU de Viau, II, 105. 

204 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

fly be kept in check: but, under a thin pretence of con- 
formity, the Libertines in the wider sense, the Esprits 
Forts or Sceptics, were legion. Montaigne and Charron 
remained the bre^daries of well-educated men; the uni- 
versal reverence for Greco-Latin antiquity created a prej- 
udice in favour of Pagan philosophy. Gassendi, a mathe- 
matician and a priest, revived the fame of Epicurus. 
Descartes, cautious in his practical life, was popularizing 
even among Churchmen the principle that "we should ac- 
cept nothing as true, unless we know it clearly and evi- 
dently to be such." Moliere was an admirable represen- 
tative of Bourgeois common sense: and it may be said 
that there is in Moliere not a trace of supernatural Chris- 
tianity. His ideal, moderation, sanity, honesty, courage 
is that of the Pagan philosophers, and of the "average 
sensual man," the sensible man of the world, "1'honnete 
homme." Tartuffe attacked the hypocrites, whom no one 
would care to defend. But it was plain also, and it ex- 
plains the hostility of very fine men who were not Tar- 
tuffes, that Moliere had no sympathy for the puritanical, 
the ascetic, the mystic view of life. The religion ex- 
pounded by his mouthpiece Cleante might be endorsed by 

This duality of the Classical soul Pagan rationalism 
on the one hand, the Christian tradition on the other 
never worried Louis XIV, but was most tragically felt by 
Pascal. For Pascal was a genius and a saint, whilst Louis 
was neither. Pascal, a scientist, a man of the world, fa- 
miliar with the literature of antiquity and with Mon- 
taigne, had in him all the elements and all the weapons of 
intellectual "libertinism." However, he escaped from the 
sphere in which Montaigne, Moliere, Voltaire, were satis- 
fied. Conversions in his family and among his friends, 
the cruel probe of physical suffering, mystic experiences 
visions and miracles restored his faith in supernat- 
ural religion. He was the most pitiless of logicians, and 
the most ardent of believers; and in his Apology of the 
Christian Religion, he was hoping to bring together these 
two extremes of his being. He left only a heap of sub- 

Beliglon in the Seventeenth Century 205 

lime fragments. The mysteries, the contradictions, the 
abysses of human destiny far beyond the reach of Car- 
tesianism he expressed with a grandeur and a quivering 
dread unique in religious literature. The absolute vic- 
tory of faith, the personal union of the soul with God, he 
also voices in words of fire. But what of the bridge across 
the chasm, what of the attempted reconciliation between 
reason and historical Christianity? At one time a coun- 
sel of despair be tells us to stifle reason, to seek refuge 
in "practices" that will stupefy our intellect. At another 
time, he advises us to "bet on Christianity" rather than 
unbelief : for, if Christianity be false, the sacrifice of some 
paltry pleasures, in this world only, will have been small 
indeed; if Christianity be true, a whole eternity of bliss 
or torment is at stake. This again is not a solution, but 
an abdication. Pascal was too great blandly to accept 
the classical compromise. If he had lived, would he have 
achieved the synthesis of rationalism and tradition? Men 
to-day are still eagerly searching his scattered Thoughts 
as though they must reveal the word of the eternal 
enigma ; but the one lesson which none of his readers can 
escape is: u Chercher en gemissant" ("Seek with groan- 



L Transitoriness of tlie Classical Compromise: Louis XIV's 
failures release spirit of criticism. 

II. The Idea of Progress: its sources: (a) in tlie rationalism 
of Descartes; (b) in the development of science. 

III. The Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns. Small 
intrinsic interest, importance as a symptom. 

IV. Transition thinkers ; the critical mind : St. Evremond and 

V. Fontenelle. 

THE classical compromise, the combined standard of 
tradition and reason, found its golden age in "the 
century of Louis XIV" : the King, Boileau, Bossuet, 
were its worthy representatives. That compromise, how- 
ever, was not a final and magic formula, responsible for 
the grandeur of the period, and to which France eVen 
now should return. It was a precarious solution, a brief 
moment of almost miraculous equilibrium. Its illogical 
and transitory character was veiled by the brilliant 
achievements of the time. So long as the enchantment 
lasted, so long as all was order, glory, prosperity, mag- 
nificent success in art and literature, criticism was si- 
lenced, and the result was an impression of majestic una- 
nimity. But such moments of unquestioning national 
self-confidence are brief as well as rare. The belief that 
Napoleon had created a new and permanent synthesis did 
not endure much more than a decade. The "century of 
Louis XIV" was not so short-lived: but it lasted barely 
twenty-five years. 

The King himself was long unconscious of any decrease 
in his power or in his prestige. In 1679, the peace of 
Nymwegen had proved him nee pluribus impar, in ac- 


Transition: Growth of Critical Spirit 207 

cordance with Ms proud motto. From 1680 to 1688, Ms 
might was such that he could capture cities in time of 
peace, as was the case with Strasbourg, none daring to 
offer effective protest. In 1682, he had stood even against 
the Pope, and maintained his authority over the French 
Church. In 1683, when Colbert died, he felt no doubt 
that he could "direct" his successor just as successfully. 
In 1685, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes was to be 
the most signal proof of his power, and set the seal to his 
glory. Wise after the event, we see pride hastening be- 
fore a fall. The losses in personnel were irreparable, for 
despotism, under Louis XIV or under Napoleon, does not 
create a second generation of efficient public servants. 
The victories were dearly purchased, and left resentment 
behind. The economic difficulties were no longer con- 
cealed, but rather brought out more glaringly, by the 
brilliancy of Versailles. And soon discontent became ar- 
ticulate, and could not be silenced. 

A new sharpness of tone is felt soon after 1685. La 
Rochefoucauld, the representative of the defated nobility, 
was disenchanted and even "disgruntled" as early at least 
as 1665: but he was attacking human nature in general 
rather than the regime. The acerbity of La Bruyere is 
different (Characters, 1688). To the King, he pays due 
tribute, and there is no reason to believe that he is not 
sincere. But the Court, "the Great," are made to feel his 
lash. Between them and "the people," if a choice had to 
be made, he would deliberately side with the witless masses. 
Of the peasants, reduced to brutish misery, he gave that 
famous description, quoted a d nauseam, which anticipated 
by two centuries Edwin Markham's M an with the Hoe. 

The Protestants, persecuted at first hypocritically and 
then with open violence, might profess to be none the less 
loyal to King and country, might be studiously moderate 
for the sake of the hostages left behind: still, their suf- 
ferings would wrench from them cries of protest which 
were heard throughout Europe and reverberated in 
France, The Sighs of Enslaved France (1689), either 
by the great minister Pierre Jurieu, or by the obscurer 

208 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

transfuge Michel Levassor, denounced absolutism in 
terms of the utmost boldness. 

Then we find Fenelon, who nursed as yet no personal 
grievance, penning his warning Letter to Louis XIV (ca. 
1692), a letter so bold that its authenticity was doubted 
until the original MS. was found. Boisguilbert, in his 
Details of France under Louis XIV (1695), and in his 
Factum of France (1705), arraigned the whole system of 
government without attacking the person of the sovereign. 
It was repeatedly asserted that Racine, a devoted admirer 
of Louis XIV, ventured at last to offer criticism, and 
that the King's contemptuous rebuke hastened the poet's 
death, Vauban, the great military engineer, one of the 
most useful servants of the monarchy, a fine type of the 
sturdy middle class, submitted to the King, in MS., his 
Royal Tithe, a diagnosis and a remedy: both were ig- 
nored. When the Memoir appeared in book form (1707), 
it was immediately condemned and suppressed. The be- 
lief that "all was for the best under the best of Kings" 
was evidently shaken to its foundations; the whole phi- 
losophy of government which had prevailed unchallenged 
during the years of prosperity lost its glamour as dis- 
aster impended. 

But this tells only part of the story. It explains why, 
to an age of assent, succeeded an age of iconoclasticism. 
The view was long accepted that the eighteenth century 
represented simply the decadence and corruption of the 
classical spirit; that the generations of the Regent, Ma- 
dame de Pompadour and Madame Du Barry were simply 
too puny to don the heavy armour of their fathers and 
submit to their austere discipline. This is hardly fair: 
the new spirit was not wholly destructive. The classical 
equilibrium was destroyed, not by loss of faith exclu- 
sively, but chiefly by the growth of other elements of 
faith. The period of transition, between 1685 and 1715, 
reveals an inextricable confusion of motives. The old 
order had failed: hence the cynicism found in Lesage's 
Tur caret (1709), and in the first parts of his Gil Bias. 
But already mankind could confidently look beyond that 

Transition: Growth of Critical Spirit 209 

outworn synthesis. When the notion of eternal stability 
was ruined, it was succeeded, not by a conviction of deca- 
dence, but by a belief in progress. 


One of the essential elements in that belief was the Car- 
tesian philosophy. Descartes himself accepted the clas- 
sical compromise in his practical life, and even gave it a 
formula in his provisional rules of conduct, But his 
thought was radical, and left no place for the authority 
of tradition. Both Bossuet and Fenelon were aware of 
the danger. We can not sufficiently emphasize the fact 
that in seventeenth century French, that language of 
flawless clarity, the word Reason is ambiguous. It may 
be interpreted as rationalism, or as reasonableness. In 
the first case, its chief instrument is logic ; in the second, 
its foundation is experience. Descartes did not believe in 
"the wisdom of prejudice 35 ; he substituted for it faith in 
the power of our own thought to-day. If we use the 
proper method, we shall be able to outstrip our ancestors. 
The golden age is not behind us : Descartes is no less op- 
timistic than Bacon. Not only is progress possible, but 
there are no limits that can be assigned to it in advance. 
In his cold and ponderous manner, Descartes voices the 
same spirit that breathed in Rabelais's hymn to the sacred 
herb Pantagruelion ; and, no less bold than Bergson, al- 
though on totally different grounds, he too anticipates 
that man may conquer "even death." It matters little 
that Descartes's physiology should be crude, his physics 
fanciful, and his rationalism too closely modeled on the 
method of Euclid. What is vital in a philosopher is his 
philosophy, that is to say his general attitude ; and Car- 
tesianism, secretly at odds with the cautious, pragmatic, 
tradition-worship of the age, was essentially forward- 
looking and modern. Moliere gave a homely and irrefut- 
able version of that philosophy: "The ancients are the 
ancients, and we are the people of to-day." 

The second factor was the growth of the scientific spir- 

The Life and Death of an Ideal 

it. We shall not attempt to sketch the history of science 
in the classical age, but only to trace Its influence on the 
general movement of thought. It was in the latter half 
of the seventeenth century that this influence first became 
noticeable; and gradually it won ground at the expense 
of metaphysics and even of literature. The great writers 
of the eighteenth century are devotees of science ; and the 
reign of Napoleon, the climax of the classical age, was 
marked by the paucity and inanity of its philosophers, by 
the vapidity of its official literary men, and, in striking 
contrast, by the brilliancy of its scientists. 

The scientific spirit existed in Rabelais, no doubt : but 
it was hopelessly intermingled with erudition and with 
pedantry. The savant, for many generations, was the 
philological scholar rather than the scientist : the tyranny 
of the past had not been shaken. Then the mathemati- 
cian became the savant par excellence. The seventeenth 
century was in some respects the golden age of mathe- 
matics, the age of Descartes, Fermat and Leibniz, leading 
up to the grandest triumph of the mathematical mind in 
Newton. Gradually, through astronomy and physics, 
studies in which observation and experimentation were 
combined with mathematical formulation, the sciences of 
the concrete were reached and developed. 

This transformation had far-reaching consequences. 
First of all, it made possible the popularization of science. 
To the many, the higher mathematics must remain a 
sealed book. Even more than in the case of metaphysics, 
the pioneer goes "voyaging through strange seas of 
thought alone" or almost alone. Fermat, Newton, in our 
own days Henri Poincare and Einstein, are said to have 
experienced that vertiginous solitude of the discoverer. 
And the explorer must clothe the result of his abtruse 
cogitations in hermetic formulae. On the contrary, there 
is an accessible, an attractive, a popular side even to as- 
tronomy ; experiments in physics are positively entertain- 
ing : theirs is the easy charm of parlour tricks. The de- 
scriptive sciences of nature are picturesque and give food 
to elementary curiosity. When science passed from the 

Transition: Growth of Critical Spirit 11 

refined and icy realm of abstraction to our concrete every- 
day world, it could become a society fad; and this is the 
serious aspect of what might seem frivolous amateurish- 
ness the scientific ideal could slowly permeate large and 
influential elements. The eighteenth century is the age 
of "reform/ 5 of "philosophy/ 5 of "science 55 : and the three 
were taken to be almost synonymous. "Enlightenment 55 
covered them all. 

We notice the growth of science in Moliere 5 s pictures 
of French society. As late as 1660, the Precieuses had 
little intellectual interest except in literature: the most 
serious might go as far as moral philosophy. In 1672, 
the "Learned Ladies" have taken the place of the Pre- 
cieuses. They are still devoted to literature : sonnets, bal- 
lads, epigrams and madrigals are events in their lives; 
they are still concerned with the purity of the French 
language, and the scepter has not slipped from the dead 
hand of Vaugelas ; classical scholarship is stiE held in high 
esteem, and Vadius is abundantly kissed by his fair ad- 
mirers, because he knows more Greek than any man in 
France. But there is a difference. The very fuss that is 
made over that pedant proves that Greek had become a 
rarity. The new element is science: astronomy and the 
vortices of Descartes are favourite topics. There is in the 
attic a telescope which frightens simple souls like Chry- 
sale 5 s; and Trissotin, poet, pedant, drawing-room lion 
and fortune-hunter, uses as a conversational opening the 
new comet which has barely missed colliding with our 
globe. Fontenelle, as we shall see, Fontenelle, of whom 
Trissotin seems a prophetic caricature was to be the 
efficient liaison agent between science, letters and society ; 
and Voltaire, the universal monarch of wit, the epitome of 
his age, translated Newton. 

This popularisation of the scientific spirit strengthened 
enormously what we must call "modernism. 55 In the arts, 
in literature, even in philosophy, it was easy enough to 
preserve undefiled one 5 s faith in the supremacy of the 
Ancients. Mathematicians probably knew better: but 
their influence was limited to a small circle. For the 

The Life and Death of an Ideal 

average educated man, the foundations of mathematics 
had been laid for all time by the Greeks, and Euclid was 
as much of a fixed point as Aristotle, Homer or Moses. 
But, in the natural sciences, an attitude of blind rever- 
ence could not be preserved without becoming grotesque. 
Moliere held up to immortal ridicule the medical profes- 
sion of the age, with its idolatry of Aristotle, Hippocrates 
and Galen. But nothing in Moliere is quite so farcical as 
the desperate resistance of the medical Fundamentalists 
against the discovery of Harvey. That the blood should 
circulate in defiance of tradition was a scandal which 
threatened all established authorities. On this ground, 
however, orthodoxy was defeated in advance. The earth 
continued to revolve, and the blood to course through 
veins and arteries, in spite of all the anathemas fulmi- 
nated by Church and Faculty. 


The Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns is, in 
itself, an episode of mediocre interest. It did not even 
have the attraction of novelty: for the controversy had 
come up a number of times before 1687. The issue never 
was well defined; the protagonists Boileau not excepted 
were not men of the very first rank ; and the debate was 
inconclusive. But, as a symptom, the Quarrel remains 
important. The significance of a battle is not measured 
by that of the village from which its name is derived. 
Valmy has no intrinsic claim to our notice; the contest 
was half-hearted and desultory: yet Goethe said: "On this 
day and in this place, a new era is opening for the world." 

On January 27th 1687, at a meeting of the French 
Academy, Charles Perrault read a poem entitled The Cen- 
tury of Louis the Great. Perrault was a very clever man, 
who transcribed into courtly and slightly archaic prose 
the folk tales of Ma Mere VQw; he was the brother of the 
no less clever Claude, an indifferent medical man (if Boi- 
leau is to be trusted) who turned into a first-class archi- 
tect. But, for all his cleverness, his was a pedestrian 

Transition: Growth of Critical Spirit 213 

Muse. Few documents notable i& literary history are so 
completely devoid of literary charm as his poem. "Noble 
antiquity ever was venerable, but I never believed that it 
was to be worshipped. I view the Ancients without bend- 
ing my knees. Great they are, no doubt, yet men like 
ourselves; and, without fear of injustice, we may com- 
pare the century of Louis with the fine century of Au- 
gustus. . . . Plato, whom our ancestors thought divine, 
is beginning at times to seem tedious ; every one knows the 
disrepute into which the famous Aristotle has fallen : he is 
even less safe a guide in physics than Herodotus in his- 
tory." Poets were not spared : fearlessly driving his par- 
adox to the uttermost, Perrault dared to criticize Homer 
himself : "a vast and powerful genius," to be sure, but so 
apt to wander into interminable digressions that "Horace 
is indulgent when he says that Homer occasionally slum- 
bers." On the other hand, what a splendid roster of great 
names is offered by modern France ! "Regnier, Maynard, 
Gombauld, Malherbe, Godeau, Racan, Sarrazin, Voiture, 
Moliere, Rotrou, Tristan" an oddly jumbled list, which 
posterity has not fully endorsed. 

Such blasphemies aroused Boileau's classical ire. "It 
was reported to the God of Poetry," he said in an indig- 
nant epigram, "that Homer and Vergil had been called 
frigid and barren. Impossible! answered Apollo, his 
wrath kindling ; or it must have been in America ("Was it 
among the Hurons, or the Topinambus?") No : it was in 
Paris. In the insane asylum, then? No: in the Louvre, 
in the Academy !" 

The Quarrel went on, dismally rather than merrily, and 
above all in very desultory fashion, for something like 
seven years. In 1694, thanks to the efforts of their dying 
friend, the great Arnauld, there was a reconciliation be- 
tween Boileau and Perrault; and, in 1700, Boileau wrote 
to his former adversary a public letter, remarkably cour- 
teous and sensible, in which he recognized the superiority 
of the Moderns in science, in many arts, and even in cer- 
tain forms of literature. The crusty old critic was no 
fool and no boor. 

214 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

We know that the Quarrel had its prolonged echo in 
England, with Temple, Boyle, Bentley and Swift. Early 
in the eighteenth century, it cropped up again in France. 
Madame Dacier, who had given a faithful and complete 
prose rendering of Homer, fought with Lamotte, who had 
found it necessary, in his versified version, to abridge the 
poem. These champions were inferior both to Boileau 
and to Perrault; although Fenelon said his word, and 
much later Voltaire tried to give an epilogue to the con- 
troversy, this last stage is the least interesting. 

The Quarrel, however, had a significance far beyond 
its merits. We have seen that the comparative failure of 
Louis XIV had weakened the respect for traditional au- 
thority, and released criticism: there is a spirit, outwardly 
modern, which is purely negative, and therefore barren. 
Perrault's thesis, on the contrary, was the result, not of 
discontent, but of excessive self-satisfaction and pride. 
It was the natural, although unexpected, conclusion of all 
the praises lavished upon Louis XIV and upon his epoch. 
For the first time, the Moderns, having served their full 
apprenticeship, dared to challenge the Ancients in all 
fields, confident that they could hold their own. It was 
the moment joyfully prophesied by Rabelais and by Du 
Bellay : antique lore had served its purpose, and true Hu- 
manism was now able to proceed unaided. Classicism in 
the narrower sense had failed to realize that such a mo- 
ment was bound to come ; indeed there are men living to- 
day who have not realized it yet, and who repeat to their 
goddess Antiquity: "To whom should we go? Thou hast 
the words of eternal life." 

Unfortunately, the value of the whole episode, as a 
crisis in the growth of the modern spirit, was spoilt by the 
extraordinary mediocrity of the controversy. The issue 
remained clouded. In science, the Moderns had the better 
of the argument: but they hardly needed that academic 
squabble in order to clinch their victory, which never was 
seriously in doubt. In literature, the honours remained 
rather with the defenders of the Ancients ; but their ad- 
vantage, due to the weakness of their opponents, was not 

Transition: Growth of Critical Spirit 15 

fully convincing. Had the Quarrel not proved abortive, 
we might imagine the eighteenth century evolving a form 
as fresh and bold as its thought really was. On the con- 
trary, an age of unexampled daring was too timid to 
shake off the shackles of pseudo-classicism. Even Vol- 
taire pinned his hopes of glory to his epic and to his 
tragedies the least Voltairian of his works. In certain 
lines, the superstitious reverence for antiquity, instead of 
dying out, experienced a recrudescence: Vitruvius was 
more of a tyrant under Napoleon than he had been under 
Louis XIV. The feeble and futile efforts of Perrault and 
Lamotte discouraged the Modernists: we shall have to 
wait another hundred years, and more, before Roman- 
ticism delivered France from the thrall of Greece and 


Officially discountenanced, and even persecuted, "Lib- 
ertinism, 53 in the sense of free-thought, survived through- 
out the seventeenth century. But its different elements 
were not equally capable of growth. Theophile de Viau 
and even Cyrano de Bergerac were late survivors of the 
anarchistic Renaissance, stragglers of a defeated army. 
They perished, and left no posterity. They are curiosi- 
ties in the history of thought, not channels of influence. 
Moliere, on the other hand, is not a systematic apostle of 
free thought; he is not partisan, even in Tartuffe; he 
hardly ever preaches (and when he does, he is not Mo- 
liere) ; he represents, not a moment in evolution, but a 
permanent trait, the eternal rebellion of common sense 
against all pretences and all forms of bigotry artistic or 
religious. On a lower plane, the independence of Lafon- 
taine was mostly indifference. He followed, not Nature, 
but his nature, which was that of Harold Skimpole. This 
is even truer of lesser men like Chapelle and Chaulieu. 

But there were others through whom the true apostolic 
succession of Free Thought can be traced, from Rabelais 
and Montaigne to Voltaire and Diderot. We have al- 
ready indicated that Pascal, paradoxically enough, the 

216 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

tragic and mystic Pascal, had at one time his place in 
that line. And this is not merely because he was well ac- 
quainted with the arch-sceptic Montaigne, the "natural 
man" against whom he was forced to invoke supernatural 
aid; but chiefly because of the jaunty tone of persiflage 
in his early Provincial Letters. These pamphlets marked 
the secularization of theology ; and it is hard for theology 
to thrive in a secular atmosphere. As soon as a gentle- 
man wrote for gentlemen (without forgetting the ladies) 
about the deepest and most technical problems of religious 
philosophy, authority melted before the irony of common 
sense. Such was not by any means Pascal's intention, and 
his ridicule of theologians is but a minor aspect of his 
work. Yet we can not forget that Voltairianism, as a style 
in religious controversy, was actually practiced by Pas- 
cal: Voltaire, a pupil of the Jesuits and a hater of the 
Jansenists, showed scant gratitude to his great fore- 

One of the clearest titles to fame of St. Evremond 
(1613-1703) is that he wrote, quite independently of 
Pascal, a brief pamphlet with all the wit and irony of the 
Provincial Letters: it is the delightful Conversation of 
Marshal d'Hocquincourt and Father Canaye. St. Evre- 
mond's was a strange destiny. Exiled in 1659 for his 
outspoken criticism of Mazarin's diplomacy, he settled in 
London, and lived there until his death in 1703. Exceed- 
ingly French, he found himself perfectly at home in the 
Frenchified atmosphere of the restored Stuart Court. He 
had his share in the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Mod- 
erns naturally on the modern side ; he was chiefly instru- 
mental in starting the English phase of it- His Reflec- 
tions on the Romans anticipated Montesquieu. He lived 
so long that his "libertinism," which at one time might 
have seemed antiquated, became prophetic of a new day. 
He was a man of the Louis XIII and Louis XV eras who, 
through a caprice of fate, managed to skip the grand 
"century of Louis XIV" altogether. 

Pierre Bayle (1647-1706) was a Calvinist who, in 
1669, was converted by the Jesuits, and, in 1670, reverted 

Transition: Growth of Critical Spirit 217 

to his former faith. This back-sliding or "relapse/* as 
the official phrase was, exposed him to banishment. In 
1681, he settled in Rotterdam, where he taught and 
worked until his death in 1706. Even in that haven of 
religious freedom, he did not enjoy untroubled peace. 
Jurieu, the intellectual leader of the French Huguenots, 
attempted to silence Mm. Against Bossuet and his doc- 
trine of authority, unity, permanency, Jurieu had argued 
for liberty and progress: but, with the critically and his- 
torically-minded Bayle, Jurieu was as dogmatic as Bos- 
suet himself. Sainte-Beuve would like to drag the name 
of Madame Jurieu into the affair: but this very Sainte- 
Beuvian hypothesis is hardly necessary. Many are the 
Dissenters who can brook no dissent from their own dis- 
sent. Persecuted right and left, Bayle preserved his phil- 
osophical equanimity : his only vengeance was to add some 
curious and erudite note in an odd corner of his vast Dic- 

Bayle was not a great writer: his style is usually indif- 
ferent and not seldom soggy. He was no philosopher in 
the constructive sense of the term, for he quietly ignored 
all doctrines, even Pyrrhonism, in the conduct of his 
thought. He was not a scientist, although he corre- 
sponded with all the scientists in Europe. He was inter- 
ested only in history, and in certain aspects of history: 
but he was not even a historian, for he had no system, and 
therefore no sense of order and measure. His master- 
piece, the Critical Dictionary (169697), is an unorgan- 
ized mass of notes on Moreri's errors ; and the best that 
he has to give is found, not in the text, but in small type 
at the foot of the page. 

Yet Bayle is no mere Renaissance philologist, no eman- 
cipated Benedictine. He is critical curiosity incarnate. 
He wants to know : and when he has started on his quest, 
there is not a single prejudice that can stop him. "Errors 
are none the better for being old," he said. Such a spirit, 
in an age of vested authorities, made the quiet bookworm 
a rather disquieting and even formidable personage. No 
wonder the local Huguenot Pope, Jurieu, found him little 

218 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

to Ms liking. Bayle, no doubt, had a lurking fondness 
for paradox: otherwise he would hardly have started on 
Ms critical career. And his experience as a critic con- 
firmed Mm in the belief that a paradox, matched against 
a prejudice, had at least an even chance of proving true. 
He was not by nature iconoclastic : only he had no rever- 
ence for idols. You can tell an idol, experimentally, by 
the fact that it can be shattered; but you never know 
until you try. 

It is obvious that in all these respects he was the spiri- 
tual father of Voltaire, and of a great multitude of eigh- 
teenth century "philosophers." He has other Voltairian 
traits : irreverent irony, not so sharp as Ms great pupi! 5 s s 
yet keen enough; and a marked fondness for spicy de- 
tails. As in the case of Voltaire, this last ingredient was 
added partly in order to whet the appetite of the reading 
public; but it also represents the author's own taste, 
wMch our purer age tMnks none of the best. For the 
whole eighteenth century, Ms vast collection of facts was 
a model and an arsenal: there is much of the Bayle spirit 
in the Encyclopaedia of Diderot and in the Philosophical 
Dictionary of Voltaire. Enemies of Voltaire, and in par- 
ticular Emile Faguet, have attempted to exalt Bayle at 
the expense of Ms more famous successor. Voltaire is less 
meticulous as a critical Mstorian, and Ms partisansMp is 
much more flagrant ; in Ms private life as well as in Ms 
open campaigns, Ms temper was much less serene. Yet it 
would be rather unkind to Bayle to insist upon a com- 

Anatole France took conscious pride in claiming kin- 
sMp with Bayle. He himself was described by Jules Le- 
maitre as "an ironical Benedictine" a phrase wMch 
aptly describes the compiler of the Critical Dictionary. 
Sylvestre Bonnard, Lucien Bergeret, Brotteaux des Isl- 
ettes, and especially Jerome Coignard, all those blandly 
sceptical booldovers who are avatars of Anatole Mmself, 
have their prototype in the Rotterdam refugee. 

Transition: Growth of Critical Spirit 

Both St. Evremond and Bayle were exiles : so it may be 
questioned whether they were truly representative of their 
time and country. Fontenelle, on the contrary, lived and 
throve in Paris, accumulated official honours, and was a 
universal favourite. He was a cool and deliberate time- 
server : yet not insincere, for he was far too clever to need 
the clumsy device of insincerity. He served at the same 
time his personal advancement, his own convictions, and 
the society in which he lived. His success, therefore, is 
much more symptomatic, in the history of culture, than 
the isolated efforts of far greater men. 

He was born in 1657. The nephew of Pierre and 
Thomas Corneille, he attempted tragedy as a matter of 
course, and failed ; he tried his hand at bucolic poetry and 
novel writing, and fared even worse. He at last found 
his way as a "polygraph," a universal utility man, a clear- 
ing-house or exchange counter for all forms of knowledge. 
He was not exactly all things to all men: he remained 
Fontenelle, a quiet but very distinct personality. But he 
was a man of letters among scientists and a scientist 
among men of letters ; a philosopher in a drawing-room, 
a man of the world in the study. The miraculous skill 
with which he husbanded his steady but none too abundant 
intellectual resources is shown by the fact that he became 
a useful and honoured member of the French Academy, 
the Academy of Sciences, and the Academy of Inscrip- 
tions. The same wise economy enabled him, with a frame 
that was not strikingly robust, to live within a month of 
a hundred years, quietly active almost to the last. Many 
of his biographers hold it up against him: it seems as 
though a man could not become a healthy centenarian 
without a strong element of selfishness in Ms nature. In 
this, and in many other respects, we may be too hard on 
Fontenelle. There are extenuating circumstances for his 
excessive longevity. 

Fontenelle represented an ideal which had been grow- 

220 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

ing throughout the classical age : not the many-sided, in- 
tense virtuoso of the Italian Renaissance, and not the 
self -mutilating ascetic; not the thoughtless man of plea- 
sure and not the narrowly practical man of action: but 
"the scholar and the gentleman," the all-round man sug- 
gested by Montaigne, the "honnete homme" of the seven- 
teenth century, whose chief care is, in all things, to eschew 
pedantry ; an intelligent amateur in every form of activ- 
ity, a specialist only in the complex art of living. For 
the average man, this is not such a bad gospel. It was for 
such men that Fontenelle wrote, and such a man was he. 
He is called in French "un vulgarisateur" in English a 
popularizer. Both terms are inadequate. Fontenelle is 
never vulgar, nor even popular. He does not address the 
masses, any more than Voltaire did after him, any more 
than Henri Poincare in his "popular" Science and Hy- 
pothesis. Like Montaigne, like Descartes, like Pascal, he 
submits the work of the specialists to the test of refined 
common sense. His work presupposes two conditions, 
which are too often lacking in our "popular" scientific 
books. The writer must have had serious training in the 
subject that he is expounding: and although Fontenelle 
was not a creative scientist, he could hold his own in in- 
telligent discussion with the specialists. And there must 
be as a background an open and fairly large aristocracy 
of the intellect, which does not include the whole "general 
public," nor limits itself to the professional investigators. 
That "gentlemanly public" did exist at the end of the 
seventeenth century: Moliere and Boileau referred to it 
as "the Court and the City." In the eighteenth century, 
it was to become, consciously, the chief influence in na- 
tional life. Pessimists will have it that in the nineteenth 
century, it was swamped beyond any hope of retnrn. 
Without such a public, we are exposed to constant and 
brutal clashes between Caliban and a caricature of Pros- 
pero: two forces almost equally blind, on the one hand 
uninformed, unthinking demagogy, on the other lop-sided 
learning. The people need enlightenment; but scholars 
and scientists need both practical sense and the human 

Transition: Growth of Critical Spirit 221 

touch. What Fontenelle attempted to do was, not to 
"vulgarize," not to "popularize/ 5 but to "harmonize" and 
to "humanize." 

Naturally, in the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Mod- 
erns, Fontenelle was on the side of Perrault: indeed he 
had anticipated Perrault in his ingenious Dialogues of the 
Dead (1683). In his Conversations on the Plurality of 
Inhabited Worlds (1686), he appears as the society sa- 
vant, a more earnest Trissotin, teaching a fair Marquise 
the rudiments of astronomy interspersed with madrigals. 
The little book starts with a comparison between the 
charms of blondes and brunettes : but it contains, with a 
creditable amount of information which was not then so 
familiar as it is now, a surprising wealth of philosophy, 
the essentials of sound scientific thought, by which we 
might still profit. In his History of Oracles (1687), the 
abridgement of a Dutch treatise, we find the critical atti- 
tude of Bayle more clearly exemplified than in Bayle him- 
self. Pagan oracles were held by the early Church to 
have some validity: they were not of God, but neither 
were they mere delusions or deceptions; they came from 
demons, who did possess genuine supernatural knowledge, 
albeit distorted and maleficent. Fontenelle proceeds, in 
all seriousness, to ruin the authority of Pagan oracles. 
He is killing the dead, and he knows it : but he is teaching 
us the use of instruments with which other corpses, which 
still bear the semblance of life, can be as neatly dissected. 

Fontenelle's masterpieces are his biographical notices 
on scientists and scholars, mostly his fellow academicians. 
Without technicalities, he gives the gist of their work, and 
its import ; without trying inquisitiveness, he conveys the 
tone of their private life, and their intimate character. 
Mr. Lytton Strachey has attempted to revive interest in 
these Eulogies of Academicians long forgotten ; and if we 
owe in part to Fontenelle's example the delicate biographi- 
cal art of Mr. Lytton Strachey, it is a debt which this 
generation should gratefully acknowledge. 

In that maze of interests, social, literary, scientific, 
philosophical^ Fontenelle was not without a guiding 

222 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

thread; and that thread was not purely and simply en- 
lightened selfishness. He was no mere sceptic, any more 
than Bayle; he believed in reason, and in science as the 
earnest, painstaking service of reason. There is little 
flippancy in him, and no rashness. His doubt is honest, 
and not all-dissolving: he knows that he does not know, 
and he knows that, relatively and within definite limits, he 
does know. The eighteenth century is still constantly ac- 
cused of "radicalism": but this was hardly true until 
Rousseau appeared on the scene, and Rousseau did not be- 
long to that open aristocracy of culture which was so 
exactly represented by Fontenelle and Voltaire. "When 
it comes to new discoveries, 55 he said at the close of his 
Plurality of Worlds, "we must not be overhasty in trust- 
ing our reason, much as we may be tempted to do so ; true 
philosophers are like the elephants, who never take an- 
other step until they are sure of their footing. 55 

Fontenelle was not the prophet, or even the guide, of 
his generation, but its secretary. In society as well as in 
the Academy of Sciences, he was the ideal secretary 
accurate, industrious, open-minded, self-effacing. It was 
therefore the opinion of his time as well as his own that 
he registered when he wrote: "Authority has ceased to 
have more weight than reason. 551 Quiet words, but de- 
cisive. We may take them to heart yet. 

Fontenelle was, in Arnoldian phrase, an apostle of 
"Sweetness and Light. 55 The Arnoldian ideal has in it a 
touch of artificiality ; in the case of Fontenelle, the 'sweet- 
ness 5 was thinned out and a trifle acidulous; the Alight 5 
was steady, but far from dazzling, and gave no apprecia- 
ble heat. Yet, after our orgies of Rousseauism, Roman- 
ticism and pure Scientism, we long at times for a quiet 
evening under the cool and distant stars; for well-bred 
voices discussing great themes without pedantry and with- 
out passion; for an Academy in the truest sense of the 
term, with Fontenelle as its Perpetual Secretary. 

1 Preface to the History of the Academy of Sciences, 



I. The rulers; the Regent: sudden reaction against regime of 
Lotus XI V, Louis XV: education, character. The favourites: 
Madame de Pompadour^ Madame du Barry. Acephalous Autoc- 

II. Aristocratic reaction: Fenelon as a forerunner^ Boulain- 
villierSj St. Simon. The Parliaments. Ecclesiastical affairs: the 
Bull Unigenitus, the Jesuits. 

III. Financial Difficulties. The banking and colonial schemes 
of Law; their collapse. The Financiers: their dissolving influ- 
ence upon classical society. 

IV. Eighteenth century France misrepresented by her govern- 

IT is an axiom with a flourishing school of political 
thinkers in France that monarchy means stability, 
and democracy means chaos. A dynasty has con- 
tinuity of purpose: the irresponsible mob is swayed by 
incessant caprice. A crucial test of this theory came in 
171 5, when after seventy-two years of reign, Louis XIV 
left his throne to a child of five. The one principle of the 
new government was to reverse in all things the policies 
of its predecessor. The Regent was almost compelled, in 
self-defence, to adopt such an attitude. Louis XIV dis- 
trusted him; and, unable to deprive the first Prince of 
the Blood of the Regency, he had attempted to deprive 
him in advance of all actual power. The Regent there- 
fore was first of all obliged to exorcize the ghost of the 
Grand Monarch, tyrannical beyond the tomb. The will 
of Louis XIV was set aside. The bastards whom he had 
raised to the rank of legitimate royal princes were shorn 
of their privileges. Whilst Louis XIV had waged an in- 
terminable and ruinous war against England in order to 
establish his grandson Philip V on the Spanish throne, 


The Life and Death of an Ideal 

France, now In alliance with England, aided her in de- 
stroying the navy, the fortresses and the arsenals of 
Bourbon Spain. No "swing of the pendulum 93 in any de- 
mocracy could have been more brutal. 

This personal element, however, was not the sole cause 
of the reaction against the late regime: it merely gave it 
freer rein. The firm government of Louis XIV had been 
accepted, even with enthusiasm, so long as it had brought 
internal peace, a fair degree of prosperity, and glory 
abroad. But its oppressive and expensive character had 
long been felt. When financial ruin and military defeat 
had to be faced, the people still rallied to the King, who 
after all, was France. But the old love and confidence 
had vanished, and the funeral train of Louis was jeered 
and cursed at when it skirted Paris on its way to St. 
Denis. A radical change was expected on all sides. But 
there was the rub : on att sides. Many forms of discontent 
can easily be united in denunciation, only to start squab- 
bling as soon as remedies are proposed. The result would 
have been perfect chaos, if the quiet energy of a hard- 
working, conservative people, and the momentum of the 
vast bureaucratic machine, had not kept the state fairly 
steady, in spite of its nominal rulers. 

And never had rulers been more purely nominal, The 
Regent, Philip, Duke of Orleans, was lacking neither in 
intelligence nor in kindness. If he was a rake, at any 
rate he was for a long time an amiable one. He was too 
honest to pay hypocritical homage to virtue : thoroughly 
self-indulgent in practice, he did not profess or enforce 
rigorism for the benefit of others. In comparison with 
the gloomy bigotry of the Maintenon regime, his lazy 
**Iive and let live" policy assumed an air of philosophic 
humanity. But there can be no genuine goodness without 
strength of purpose. As his friend St. Simon reproached 
him, the Regent was debonnaire in the French sense of the 
term, that is to say weak, rather than genuinely kind. 
He was unsteady, ruined in mind and will as well as in 
body by the effects of his dissolute life. It was difficult to 
keep his attention focussed on the affairs of the state. 

Royal Anarchy: Government Under Louis XV 227 

Resistance soon wearied Timi and wore out Ms best inten- 
tions. His boasted liberalism had no firm foundation, and 
the easy-going man could become high-handed, when he 
thought that brutality might save him some trouble. 
Even the amiability which was generally acknowledged by 
his contemporaries, and which, after a century and a half, 
still fascinated Alexandra Dumas and Michdet, did not 
stay with him to the end: there is no trace of it in the 
bloated and morose face we find in his last portrait. 

In 1723, the King was declared of age: but he re- 
mained a figure-head. Twenty years later, on the death 
of his trusted tutor, Cardinal Meury, his "personal 
reign" was said to begin: but time had brought neither 
knowledge nor energy. Even the desire to rule was lack- 
ing : Louis XV was destined to remain what he had been 
as a child : a bored spectator on the throne. Yet France 
longed to love her king. The handsome, timid little boy, 
so frail, surviving alone amid the ruins of his race, had 
appealed to the hearts of the people. As late as 1744, 
when, on his way to the front, he fell dangerously sick at 
Metz, thousands of masses were said for his recovery; he 
deserved then to be called Louis the Well-Beloved. 

As a figure-head, he was not devoid of majesty and 
grace. He preserved, in public ceremonies, an air of 
Olympian aloofness, which was a kingly mask for his un- 
kingly indifference. He was not a coward: once at least 
in his life, at Fontenoy, he displayed actual courage. He 
was not stupid. As a child, he had been taciturn, almost 
sullen, like Louis XIII ; and, even in his young maturity, 
he remained diffident, ill at ease in the company of women; 
but the sisters de Nesle three of them in succession 
turned this royal boor into a courtly gentleman ; and with 
his friends, he was pleasant, even witty. Madame de 
Pompadour retained her empire over him through her 
cleverness, her delicate taste and iier social charm, rather 
than through mere physical attractiveness. He never was 
actively kind, but he was not cruel. A deplorable hus- 
band, even as royal husbands went in those days, he was 
an excellent father; with his daughters in particular, he 

228 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

could be unaffected and cheerful. There was nothing 
morbid or monstrous about him, as there was in Nero or 
in the last three Vaiois. He was simply spoilt : but spoilt 
unto rottenness. 

The first heir of Louis XIV had been trained by Bos- 
suet; the second by Fenelon; and neither lived to reign. 
The education of Louis XV had been a masterpiece of a 
different sort. Villeroy gave young Louis ^ XV the sense 
of his quasi-divine position 5 without an inkling of his 
royal duties. Fleury, supple and gentle, made him a de- 
vout practicing Catholic, but did not succeed in making 
him a Christian. Louis XV believed earnestly in Hell; 
but he believed even more firmly that there would always 
be a chaplain in attendance to save his soul on his death 
bed. He acquired no discipline, no useful information, 
not even an intelligent hobby. He loved hunting, and, 
when he was tired of hunting, he would tie knots of rib- 
bons or weave tapestry. 

Alone on his artificial Olympus, untrained except to 
laziness, prejudiced and unprincipled, timid at heart 
whilst absurdly proud, superstitious and sceptical, he 
yawned his life away. State business, which had en- 
grossed his predecessor, bored him unutterably. In coun- 
cil, he hardly opened his mouth, and then only to reveal 
the vacuity of his mind. He found more pleasure in petty 
intrigues, even against his own ministers : he had his secret 
police, his secret diplomacy. But even they failed to 
amuse him for long. He could not take them seriously 
enough to play the game. All his life was a pretence ; he 
himself was a pretence. He had flashes of Voltairian 
irony, in which the utter futility of it all was revealed to 
him. "Do not invest in royal securities," he advised one 
of his business agents : "they say it is not safe 5 ' ; and the 
familiar cry of cynical despair : "After us, the deluge !" 

What wonder that in this waste of dreary vanities, he 
should clutch at pleasure, "the one thing as certain as 
death"? Glorious Louis XIV had shown the way. The 
Regent had freely flaunted his vices. The Court was even 
less squeamish than the King : temptation was forced upon 

Royal Anarchy: Government Under Louis XV 229 

him. It was the time when an honest German prince, 
persuaded that a Court Mistress was a necessary appur- 
tenance of a royal establishment, appointed such a func- 
tionary, only to be seen walking sedately with her in a 
garden. The age found no fault with Louis XV on that 
score. Courtiers affected to admire the "constancy in in- 
constancy 5 ' that impelled him to take three sisters one 
after the other; and the one objection raised at first 
against Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Dame d'Etioles and 
later Marquise de Pompadour, was that she, a mere bour- 
geoise, was poaching on the preserves of the nobility. 

That remarkable woman was no figure-head, but a born 
ruler. Her career was a triumph of the will. She had 
been picked out and trained for it long before it seemed 
at all likely that she could ever meet the King; and she 
had consciously we might say conscientiously pre- 
pared herself for her dazzling destiny. Louis, as soon as 
he saw the young queen of financial society, was subju- 
gated. But mere beauty would not have preserved his 
favour many months : she kept it for twenty years, until 
her death in 1764. Her daily existence was a combat: 
against the Church and the nobility, against possible 
rivals, against the eternal taedium vitae that was devour- 
ing the King; and'she won so brilliantly that even the 
Queen finally accepted her, and made her a lady-in-wait- 
ing. In the chaos that reigned in France's diplomatic and 
military affairs, it is hard to tell whether the foreign 
policy that she advocated was worse than any possible 
alternative : it failed disastrously, and she had to bear the 
blame, before the contemporaries and before posterity. 
At home at any rate, her influence was fairly steadily on 
the liberal side. She protected Voltaire, like herself a 
parvenu of wit ; and, according to S. Tallentyre, she even 
wanted to make him a Cardinal. She helped the Ency- 
clopedia. She assisted in the discomfiture of the Jesuits 
for which, in the hearts of certain French radicals, 
many of her sins will be forgiven. She deserved to give 
her name, not wholly in contumely, to a period in French 
culture, akin to the Regency, rather less immoral, fully 

The Life and Death of an Ideal 

as "enlightened/ 9 and more delicate in taste. An artist of 
some talent herself, a consummate actress of course, but 
also a musician, a painter, etcher, engraver, she was a 
generous and intelligent patroness. Her group, her 
fatherly protector Tournehem, her brother Marigny, 
officially directed French art for two generations : and the 
result of their guidance is not to be despised. 

But the nature and the education of Louis XV were too 
vacuous to be satisfied with cultured hedonism. Even the 
marvelous resourcefulness of the Marquise de Pompadour 
failed to monopolize his interest. She had, willy nilly, to 
share the fate of legitimate queens and admit the existence 
of rivals; she even had to treat them with friendliness, 
as Marie Leczynska treated Tier. Legend has no doubt 
magnified the debauchery of Louis XV, and his private 
establishment of the Parc-aux-Cerf s was in all likelihood 
not quite so horrific as it has remained in popular imag- 
ination. But certain it is that advancing years did not 
moderate or refine the lust of the monarch. 

Strangely enough, the Court, so hostile at first to Ma- 
dame de Pompadour, a bourgeoise, welcomed without a 
qualm Marie Jeanne Becu, Countess du Barry, a mere 
courtesan* We should not even mention that shameful 
and prolonged episode (17691774), if it did not throw 
such glaring light upon hereditary absolutism. The 
King, brought up in the belief that he could do no wrong, 
bereft by his very omnipotence from any vital interest, 
had become merely an old man seeking amusement and 
illusion. The Du Barry was pretty, vivacious, unconven- 
tional, refreshingly vulgar with odd reserves of native 
tact, madly prodigal but not sordidly grasping. At coun- 
cils of state, she would sit on the arm of the royal chair, 
making faces at the ministers, and interfering in national 
affairs with the irresponsibility of a pet monkey. It is 
odd that her intervention was not wholly pernicious; as 
she was a mere instrument, she served at times a defensi- 
ble cause, without an inkling of the real issue. If she 
brought about the dismissal of Choiseul, who had refused 
to acknowledge her, she helped the Triumvirate, d'Aiguil- 

Boyal Anarchy: Government Under Louis XV 231 

Ion, Maupeou and Terray ; and it can at least be argued 
that these men were undertaking reforms which might 
have given the ancient regime a longer lease of life. 

France thus offered for nearly sixty years the strange 
spectacle of an acephalous autocracy, a crown without a 
head. The absentee King, bored by etiquette as well as 
by business, was too ignorant to find any escape except 
in pleasure ; and he finally accepted a priestess of pleasure 
from the gutter. Once he was teasing Choiseul about 
some love affair: "Be careful, Choiseul, your soul is in 
danger!" The minister dared to reply: "What about 
yours, Sire?" "Oh!" the King answered, **my case is dif- 
ferent: I am tJie Lord's Anointed!" The magnificent 
fallacy of Bossuet about the Divine Right of Bongs 
needed such a reductio ad absurdwn. 


The government of Louis XIV had been an autocracy 
served by a bureaucracy: no other authority was toler- 
ated. The nobility, the Parliaments, even the Church, 
exercised their powers only through a delegation of the 
Bong or by his permission : the King alone was the State. 
It was against this royal Caesarism that the men of the 
Regency rebelled. It had been tyrannical, and men with 
sincere liberal velleities, like the Regent himself, were 
glad to see it at an end. But it had also been anti-aris- 
tocratic, and the old aristocracy raised its head again. 

Of this odd mixture of nobiliary prejudices with a gen- 
uine desire for reform, Fenelon had been the illustrious 
forerunner. Salentum, in his pedagogical romance Telem- 
achus, is a Utopia founded on the simple life and a rigid 
class system. The luxury of the great devours the sub- 
stance of the people: in Salentum, the seven classes of 
freemen are distinguished by their costumes, and the one 
great incentive to luxury, which is the gratification of 
pride rather than that of the senses, immediately disap- 
pears. "Place in the first rank," says Minerva herself 
under the guise of Mentor, "those of the most ancient and 

The Life and Death of an Ideal 

brilliant lineage." Fenelon died before the King he had 
freely criticized: but the Regent had Telemachus printed, 
as a posthumous apology to the great apostle of Christian 
gentleness and aristocratic pride. 

Boulainvilliers, who had long been inditing his curious 
politico-historical studies, addressed a Memoir to the Re- 
gent on the Regeneration of France. The basic theory 
of Boulainvilliers is the negation at the same time of ^pop- 
ular government, and of absolute monarchy. It is an 
out-and-out defence of feudalism, the foundation of which 
he finds in the right of conquest. The hundred thousand 
descendants of the Franks alone form the dominant popu- 
lation. The King himself has no right to add to their 
number, or to curtail their privileges, which are as an- 
cient and as venerable as his own prerogative. This bold 
doctrine rankled in the mind of the Third Estate. It 
made the nobility a class for ever closed, the oppressor, 
the enemy. In 1789, Sieyes, who defined the Third Es- 
tate as the very substance of the nation, said of the nobles : 
"Let them return to the German forests whence they 
came P J 

But the most ardent and the most influential advocate 
of a nobiliary reaction was Saint-Simon. In the course 
of his long life, he never was able to get over the wonder 
of his being a Duke and Peer of the realm. Louis XIV 
did not appreciate him, and thought his stickling for 
etiquette absurd. Saint-Simon retaliated by despising 
and denouncing "that reign of vile bourgeoisie," in which 
a commoner like Colbert could hold the highest offices, 
wield more influence than a Prince of the Blood, and se- 
cure for his kin the most brilliant titles. Saint-Simon had 
placed his hope in Fenelon's pupil, the Duke of Bur- 
gundy ; but that prince died too soon. The champion of 
the Dukes and Peers had his chance at last under his 
friend the Regent. He advocated the "Polysynodical 
System": the former ministers and secretaries of state 
were superseded by Councils, in which the higher nobility 
figured prominently, whilst the old officials were allowed 
to attend to the routine work. This cumbrous method did 

Royal Anarchy: Government Under Louis XV 233 

not function well, and was soon abandoned. But the at- 
tempted reaction left traces In French history. The in- 
capacity of the aristocracy was exposed. The traditional 
alliance between King and bourgeoisie was for a while 
overshadowed and almost interrupted. Louis XV and 
Louis XVI were much more committed to the lost cause 
of the feudal aristocracy than Louis XIV had been. In 
1789, as we shall see, it was almost impossible for Louis 
XVI to place himself where he rightly belonged, at the 
head of his people against the privileged orders. The re- 
actionary dreams of Fenelon, Boulainvilliers, Saint- 
Simon, tolerated if not encouraged by the Regent, then 
bore their dangerous fruit. 

The Parliaments had been curbed by Louis XIV, and 
reduced to their proper function, the administration of 
justice. But they had never given up their claim to be 
"sovereign courts, 5 * coordinate with the monarchy. They 
were confirmed in this exalted view of their office by the 
Regent, who needed them in order to annul the will of 
Louis XIV. They eagerly fell in with his plans ; and, as 
a reward, the right of "remonstrating'* was restored to 
them. Such an abridgement of absolutism might seem a 
conquest for liberty ; and it would have been, if the Par- 
liaments had represented anything beside themselves. As 
it was, they formed a small, selfish, reactionary caste ; the 
restoration of their privileges was a victory for the spirit 
of privilege. Far from helping the cause of progress, 
the increased power of the Parliaments was, throughout 
the eighteenth century, one of the chief obstacles to re- 
form. Their radical transformation by Chancellor Mau- 
peou (17711774?) would at least have given "enlight- 
ened despotism" a chance ; but the death of Louis XV put 
an end to the brief experiment, which had been heartily 
endorsed by Voltaire and Turgot. Once more, a retro- 
grade step was taken in the name of liberalism, and the 
Parliaments recovered their authority only to hasten the 
catastrophe through their constant and unintelligent op- 
position to change. 

Nowhere is the chaotic character of the regime made 

234 The life and Death of an Ideal 

more manifest than in ecclesiastical affairs. Louis XIV 
tad one definite, consistent principle: unity. Accord- 
ingly, Huguenots and Jansenists had been outlawed. The 
Regent, full of kindly intentions, thoroughly sceptical, 
and detested by the religious bigots of the Maintenon 
clique, was in favour of tolerance; and, under his rule, 
Protestants and Jansenists could breathe. But, as in all 
things, his velleities did not pass into law. The Edict of 
Nantes was not restored ; and, as early as 1724, the drastic 
provisions of the Revocation were enforced again. It was 
not until the very eve of the Revolution that the Protes- 
tants had some relief. 

The Jansenist quarrel is a much more complicated 
story. King and Pope had united in suppressing the 
movement, which, by the Bull Unigenitus, in 1713, was 
irrevocably condemned. The nuns of Port-Royal had 
been dispersed, their convent pulled down, the very tombs 
of their friends had been moved away. Yet the stubborn 
spirit of the sect would not die. Jansenism still found 
many sympathizers among the clergy and among the sub- 
stantial middle class. The Parliament of Paris, in par- 
ticular, was favourably inclined towards Jansenism, and 
revelled in opposing both the King and the Pope. So, 
within the ranks of the Catholics, an interminable and 
obscure fight went on during the whole reign on the sub- 
ject of the Bull. Sacraments were denied to dying Catho- 
lics who had not properly subscribed to the Bull ; on the 
other hand, the Parliament of Paris, as "guardian of the 
canons" and defender of the liberties of the Gallican 
Church, opposed legal procedure to theological weapons. 
The attitude of the government was shifting. The Re- 
gent himself cared very little about the Bull Unigenitus 
or any other ; but his trusted counsellor, Dubois, longing 
for a Cardinal's hat which the Pope alone could bestow, 
wanted to please Rome by enforcing her policy. Under 
the Duke of Bourbon and Cardinal Fleury, the govern- 
ment was against the Jansenists, but lacked determination 
or power to end the troublesome agitation. The feverish 
atmosphere created by this protracted quarrel favoured 

Royal Anarchy: Government Under Louis XV 235 

a veritable epldemy of mysticism. In the age of Voltaire, 
the Jansenists proved the excellence of their cause by 
going into convulsions. The sick were healed at St. Me- 
dard's, on the tomb of Deacon Paris, a Jansenist. The 
government saw fit to close the cemetery, and some wag 
put up the sign : "By order of the King ; no divine miracle 
allowed here. 55 

Back of the anti-Jansenist movement were the Jesuits, 
as in the days of Pascal. That great order was very 
widely distrusted and hated. In the eyes of the Gailicans, 
it represented TJltramontanisin, the supremacy of Rome. 
Voltaire, one of their pupils, always kept a personal affec- 
tion for his old masters, and preferred them to the gloom- 
ier Jansenists : still he saw in them the bulwark of a con- 
servative, persecuting Church, and could not be expected 
to defend them. By an odd coalition of GalHcanism, Jan- 
senism and Free Thought, under the aegis of Madame de 
Pompadour and through the instrumentality of Choiseul, 
the Jesuits were suppressed in France in 176162. They 
were treated without indulgence and even without fair- 
ness : their defence was not even heard. But the rigorous 
measures taken against them failed to rouse any sympa- 
thy in their favour ; and, in 1773, the order was abolished 
throughout Christendom by Pope Clement XIV. 

The scandal of this bitter fight favoured enormously 
the growth of unbelief. Voltairianism can hardly be un- 
derstood without such a background. We may note that 
it was to a large extent under Gallican and Jansenist in- 
fluences that the National Assembly voted the "Civil Con- 
stitution of the Clergy/ 5 one of the most disastrous mis- 
takes of the Revolution. 


In the history of France during the eighteenth century, 
two words recur with ominous regularity: deficit, bank- 
ruptcy. The remedies were obvious to every eye: econ- 
omy and tax reform. But they were as impracticable as 
they were obvious : the anarchical levity that prevailed at 

236 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

the center of government made retrenchment unthinkable ; 
and the classes best able to pay resented as an insult the 
curtailment of their fiscal privileges. The country was 
resourceful and thrifty; the eighteenth century was an 
age of economic expansion: so the catastrophe, ever im- 
pending, was averted for seventy-four years. 

Under the Regency, a curious attempt was made to 
meet the situation by unprecedented means ; and, to the 
present day, opinion is divided as to the merits of that 
wild adventure. Law, a Scottish banker, who had in vain 
propounded his "system" to Louis XIV, succeeded in se- 
curing the favour of the Regent. He created a private 
bank, which was extremely successful. He took over from 
one of the financial barons of the time, Crozat, the privi- 
lege of developing the Mississippi region. Then his bank 
became a Royal institution. His "Company of the In- 
dies 55 absorbed all rivals, and monopolized the colonial 
trade of France. Finally, bank and company were amal- 
gamated. Law had in addition the direction of the Mint 
and the farming of the taxes. By 1720, the foreign ad- 
venturer was officially Comptroller General of Finances ; 
the management of the national debt was turned over to 
the wizard. Thanks to his undoubted genius, and to the 
uncompromising support of an erratic and absolute gov- 
ernment, he had in his hand the whole economic fabric of 

The expansion of credit through Law's banking activ- 
ities was a new thing in France, and a particularly good 
thing in a country grown slack and self -diffident through 
many years of disaster. The prosperity that was sud- 
denly whipped up did not wholly disappear when the 
scheme collapsed. The development of the colonies was 
a worthy enterprise, and it was undertaken with credita- 
ble energy. It was by no means an activity on paper: 
hundreds of ships were actually bought or built. But re- 
turns were bound to be slow, whilst hopes had run too 
high. The linking of three heterogeneous elements, a 
bank, a trading company, and the finances of the State, 
was overbold, and could succeed only through a miracle 

Royal Anarchy: Government Under Louis XV 237 

of luck and efficiency. The government yielded to the 
temptation of juggling with paper millions; the princes 
preyed upon the Company ; the whole population caught 
the gambling fever from its leaders. The Kue Quincam- 
poix served as an outdoor stock exchange, and saw the 
most sudden shifts of fortune. The scheme, too grandiose 
almost from the start, was inflated to absurd proportions. 
Had Law, who was honest as well as bold, remained in 
control, he might have saved the sound elements of his 
"system, 3 ' and mitigated the ruins that would follow the 
bursting of the bubble. But his rivals saw their chance, 
and hounded him out of the country (Dec., 1720) . The 
great lords, like the Duke of Bourbon, helped themselves 
by the cartful to all the cash available ; and the brothers 
Paris, Law's personal enemies, who were entrusted with 
the winding up of the affair, performed their task with 

The crisis revealed to the world at large the cata- 
strophic power of speculation, and thus contributed to the 
demoralization of the age. It must be said, however, that 
the evils made manifest under the Regency were already 
in existence under Louis XIV. When we read Lesage's 
comedy Turcaret, we are struck by its Balzacian atmos- 
phere and the modern tone of its satire. It could be en- 
titled Business is Business, or The Gold Digger. Now 
Turcaret appeared in 1709. The rise of Samuel Bernard 
preceded the Regency; and Louis XIV, to use Saint- 
Simon's energetic expression, prostituted his majesty by 
showering courtesies on the financier. The ancient regime 
is frequently depicted as an age of social stability; every 
one knew his place, and progressed within his appointed 
sphere ; no attempt was made to rise suddenly, as in our 
democracies, and to slap the intermediate steps. Such a 
perfect Salentum has never existed except in the imagina- 
tion of Fenelon and Paul Bourget. 1 Successful financiers 
elbowed their way to the very front. They bought titles, 
and they bought noble connections. Great families were 
only too willing to "regild their 'scutcheons, 5 ' as the say- 

l Cf. L'Etape. 

The Life and Death of an Ideal 

ing was, or, in cruder terms, to "manure their lands 59 with 
the wealth of a successful commoner. The Count of Ev- 
reux, of the princely family of Bouillon, married Made- 
moiselle Crozat ; and the old Duchess called her daughter- 
in-law "our little gold nugget." 

Here as in all things, what the Regency did was to tear 
aside a hypocritical veil. The eighteenth century did not 
see again as insolent a parvenu as Fouquet, with his quasi- 
regal scale of living and his Quo non ascendamf But the 
princes of finance assumed a conspicuous place in society. 
They had their handsome Hotels or private residences in 
the Faubourg-Saint-Honore, their "Folies" in the sub- 
urbs, their chateaux in the country. They patronized 
magnificently art and literature. They were on friendly 
terms with philosophers : the d'Epinays gave Rousseau a 
home. Indeed they might be philosophers themselves, like 
Helvetius. They were, in many different ways, a ferment 
of dissolution for the regime. The people, who might 
have preserved a while longer their reverence for a tradi- 
tional aristocracy, took the habit of scoffing at riches and 
titles the origins of which were only too well known ; the 
prestige of the ancient nobility suffered by contagion. 
On the other hand, the old families borrowed no strength 
from the new elements: they persisted in treating the 
nowveaux riches with insufferable insolence, even whilst 
accepting their money. This prevented a coalition of the 
wealthy classes, old and new, which might have been a 
factor of stability. There is more wounded vanity than 
democratic feeling in the epigrams of Beaumarchais : and 
Beaumarchais, forerunner of the Revolution, was an ad- 
venturer of finance. 


The Regent inaugurated, and Louis XV continued, an 
era of incurable levity. Under this capricious regime, 
there was licence without liberty, and violence without en- 
ergy. It is never quite true even in a democracy, to say 
that a people gets only the government it deserves: 

Royal Anarchy: Government Under Louis XV 239 

France In the eighteenth century was vastly superior to 
her rulers. She was eager to respond to leadership : but 
leadership there was none. If left to herself, as under the 
lenitive rule of an old man s Cardinal Fleury, she laboured 
and prospered. Fortunately, a chaotic government, ab- 
solute though it may be in theory, is not all powerful even 
for evil : weakness has some of the advantages of tolerance. 
Whilst the home policy of the monarchy was offering the 
sorriest spectacle, and its foreign policy was even more 
lamentable, the civilization of France never was so bril- 
liant, and never did her social prestige stand higher. 

Yet there was something unwholesome in that bril- 
liancy : the taint that was in the monarchy corrupted the 
whole of national life. Taste, charm and wit France pos- 
sessed abundantly in those days, and already a curiosity 
for science, a philosophical daring which duller periods 
might envy. Yet it was not good that the Duke of Or- 
leans should be able to help transmute "that rogue Du- 
bois" into a Cardinal ; that a wastrel like Louis XV should 
pose as "the Lord's Anointed"; that a Voltaire and a 
Choiseul should have to curry favour with Madame de 
Pompadour. It meant a devaluation of all values, many 
of which were sound still. France has not yet paid in full 
for the meretricious prestige won in the first half of the 
eighteenth century; not only has France suffered, but 
through France, the sane and generous ideas which she 
advocated, and which seemed contaminated with the Re- 
gency and Pompadour spirit. It was thanks to examples 
from above that Voltaire could write La Pucelle 9 and 
Diderot Les Bijoux Indiscrets. 

France redeemed herself by her own efforts. In the 
second half of the century, we shall find a positive longing 
for simplicity and virtue; and, almost inevitably, that 
moral regeneration was accompanied by the most bitter 
contempt for Louis the Well-Beloved. 


I. Public Opinion, Society, Conversation. 

The newsmongers (Nouvellistes). The Gardens. The Cafes. 
The Clubs. The Theatres. 

II. The Salons : Madame de Lambert and the Academy. Ma- 
dame de Tencin. Madame du Deffand. 

III. The Salons: Mademoiselle de Lespinasse and d'Alem- 
bert. Madame Geoffrin. Madame d'Epinay. D'Holbach. Hel- 
vetius. Necker. 

IV. Permeation of provincial France and Europe by the spirit 
of Parisian society. Voyages. Correspondences. 

Influence of Society upon Art: decorative art. Moments and 
aspects: Watteau, Latour, Boucher. 

MONARCHY, tinder Louis XV, abdicated all leader" 
ship. The result, as we have seen, was disastrous 
confusion in diplomacy, war, government, eccle- 
siastical affairs. In art, literature and philosophy, the 
scepter passed to a new sovereign, public opinion. And 
that sovereign, amorphous, ubiquitous, irresponsible, made 
its power felt mainly through what is vaguely known as 

The eighteenth century offers a clear demonstration 
that history is not just "past politics/* if by politics we 
understand merely the official activities of public bodies. 
Politics, at that time, were beneath contempt ; but the life 
of the country, which it is the task of history to record, 
had never been more intense. France managed to exist, 
to produce, to prosper, without institutions and without 
heroes. There was some one more powerful than the 
King, and wittier even than Voltaire: it was "Monsieur 
Tout~le-Monde," the collective mind. 

With all our elected assemblies and our popular news- 
papers, it is hard enough at present to catch hold of the 
"phantom public." In the eighteenth century, these ob- 
vious modes of expression did not exist at all. The Par- 


The New Sovereign: Society Under Louis XV 

liaments might go beyond their judicial attributions and 
discuss political problems : but they had no mandate from 
the people. The Estates and Assemblies which survived 
in certain provinces had but a shadowy existence. The 
periodical press was in its infancy. The weekly Gazette 
de France founded by Theophrastus Renaudot in 1631 
enjoyed a monopoly of political information: but so far 
as home affairs were concerned, it was the driest of court 
circulars. The Mercure was purely a literary review. 
Yet de Tocqueville, comparing ancient France and the 
France of Napoleon III, with its daily press, its Legisla- 
tive Body, its plebiscites, was able to say : "France to-day 
is muffled, echoless : then it was vibrant. It was sufficient 
to raise one's voice to be heard afar. 55 

The key to this paradox is "Society." Information 
was transmitted, opinions vented, measures suggested or 
opposed, ministers made or unmade, by word of mouth, 
or even by the suggestion of a smile and a shrug. "They 
say that man is a sociable animal: if this be true, the 
Frenchman is more of a man than all others ; he is man 
par excellence" This ironical remark of Montesquieu's 
applied with full force to the Parisians of his time. So- 
ciability was a smiling tyrant. When Rousseau decided 
to seek solitude, he created consternation among his ac- 
quaintances: he had committed the unpardonable sin, 
which only incipient madness could explain. 

By "society" we should not understand in this case a 
definite and exclusive set. Society had no single center, 
and no recognized hierarchy. The Court was more nu- 
merous and more lavish than ever ; but, uncontrolled by 
the King, it had become a mob, divided into shifting 
cliques which were warring for spoils. It could do much 
harm, but it could not lead. "Society" simply means con- 
versation. Wherever people gathered informally and 
talked, in a public garden, in the pit of a theatre, in a 
coffee house, in a club, in a drawing-room, there a new 
cell of society came into being. Between a chance con- 
junction of idlers in the Palais-Royal Gardens, and the 
exclusive salon of Madame du Deffand, there was appar- 

24 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

entiy an abyss: but between the most remote circles, there 
existed innumerable channels of communication. The 
rumour that originated among the newsmongers of La 
Petite Provence (a sheltered spot in the Tuileries Gar- 
dens) would be discussed the same evening in an aristo- 
cratic company; the song that amused the Pont-Neuf 
would at once proceed to the Faubourg St. Germain ; and, 
conversely, an epigram whispered under a crystal chan- 
delier would find its way, with mysterious swiftness, to the 
workshops of the Faubourg St. Antoine. Paris, high and 
low, was curiously cohesive in those days. In spite of 
social barriers, there existed a free-masonry of wit and 
public interest, which the Revolution, industry, science, 
democracy, have actually weakened and all but destroyed. 
It was that unorganized and invisible empire that was 
called Society. 

Each of the public parks and promenades in Paris was 
a forum. Something of the kind survives in London, 
where Hyde Park, of a Sunday afternoon, offers such a 
picturesque collection of apostles, cranks and fanatics, 
mystics and demagogues. But the usual method in the 
Paris of the ancient regime was conversation rather than 
oration. A subversive speaker may easily be jailed: a 
rumour plays hide-and-seek with the police. Each of 
these places had a specialty. At the Luxembourg, the 
favourite topic was literature; at the Tuileries, society 
gossip and foreign affairs ; at the Palais-Royal, home poli- 
tics ; in the Cloister of the Cordeliers, destined to harbour 
one of the most radical clubs at the time of the Revolu- 
tion, advanced opinions were expressed, according to po- 
lice reports, as early as 1725. La Bruyere in his Char- 
acters, Montesquieu in his Persian Letters, Mercier in his 
Tableau of Paris, have sketched for us the physiognomy 
of the newsmonger or nouvelliste. There were nouvellistes 
of all kinds and degrees, from mere idlers and famished 
adventurers to respectable bourgeois, retired officers, 
priests and noblemen. Some, like "Bonhomme Metra" 
under Louis XVI, wielded a sort of recognized authority 
and were long remembered. Most of the "Philosophers" 

The New Sovereign: Society Under Louis XV 248 

of the period, and later most of the revolutionary leaders* 
frequented these open-air clubs. The storming of the 
Bastille was decided among the nowveUlstes of the Palais- 
Royal. The glimpses that we catch of these meetings 
make us realize the inadequacy of written documents, even 
for such a recent and well-known period as the eighteenth 
century. We feel that political consciousness grew to a 
large extent under the trees of the Paris gardens: yet 
these discussions could leave no definite records, and they 
form in history an element at the same time essential and 

Paris is not in "sunny France" a phrase the irony of 
which was bitterly felt by our soldiers during the Great 
War ; many months, in the capital, are bleak, and there is 
not one that may not be rainy. So the Parisians can not 
live out of doors as did the ancient Greeks and Romans. 
Impromptu clubs under cover were provided by the Cafes. 
The coffee house originated in the seventeenth century; 
but the eighteenth was its Augustan age. An Italian 
founded the Procope: as the Comedie Franfaise was then 
located opposite, the house was long an active literary 
center. It was the Procope that introduced ices into 
France, a specialty in which it was later supplanted by 
Tortoni. Under the Second Empire (which now seems to 
us the Ancient Regime!), the Procope had an aftermath 
of influence and glory: radical students flocked to its 
rather dingy rooms, and listened to the vociferations of 
an unkempt young lawyer by the name of Leon Gambetta. 
At the Regence, the chief attraction was chess : but, for 
whatever purpose Parisians may congregate, talk will in- 
variably be the best of the feast. Diderot and his crew 
of Encyclopaedists were pillars of the cafes ; and in Dide- 
rot's spirited sketch, Rameau*$ Nephew, we have what 
seems almost a stenographic report of the dazzling and 
cynical conversation in vogue at the cafes. A cafe was 
literally a coffee house in those days : with the substitution 
of beer and absinthe for "the beverage that Vergil lacked 
and Voltaire adored," a charming chapter in the history 
of French culture came to an end. 

244 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

The organized Club is an English institution, and de- 
veloped much later in Paris than in London. If its aim 
was social, it was felt to be an absurdity, a heresy: why 
deprive society of its raison d'etre and chief ornament, 
woman? If it went into politics, it offered too easy a 
target to a suspicious police. From 1724, Abbe Alary 
gathered his friends, every Saturday from five to eight; 
as his apartment was on the mezzanine floor of President 
Renault's palatial residence, the group was known as 
Cercle de VEntresol. Abbe de St. Pierre, the lovable and 
Utopian reformer, who had denied to Louis XIV the title 
of Great, and proposed to organize "Perpetual Peace," 
was one of its chief oracles, and Montesquieu was a mem- 
ber. Cardinal Meury, timorous rather than tyrannical, 
had the Entresol closed. Genuine political clubs were not 
to thrive in France until 1782, when, under English influ- 
ences, one was founded by the Duke of Orleans. Immedi- 
ately before the Revolution, they prospered exceedingly; 
and France, during the Terror, was actually subjected to 
the dictatorship of a club, the Jacobins/ 

Public opinion, struggling for consciousness, found an 
the drama a powerful instrument. A theatre was an open 
club, and the most democratic there was. Not only did 
the common people have their own spectacles in the farces 
at the fair, particularly that of St. Laurent's ; but they 
also thronged the Theatre Franfais. A playhouse was an 
epitome of society : on the very stage, separated from the 
actors by a gilded railing, sat the young bloods of the 
aristocracy (this practice, so detrimental to stage illusion, 
was not abolished until 1759) ; in the boxes, the social 
elite, the nobility, the rich bourgeois ; in the pit, all those 
and they were innumerable in Paris to whom the lan- 
guage of the classics was not a sealed book. The spec- 
tators in the pit were not seated. This uncomfortable 
custom made that part of the audience, thus jammed to- 
gether, at the same time more responsive and more irre- 
sponsible. A joke, a jibe, a biting allusion, could be 

1 Free-Masonry, in its modern form also an importation from Eng- 
land, played to some extent the role of a liberal club. Cf. pp. 

The New Sovereign: Society Under Louis XV 245 

hurled from the pit, and the offender, in the confusion of 
laughter, applause or protest, would duck under the sea 
of heads and elude the police. Thus the drama played to 
some extent the part of our political meetings: allusions 
were found even in Racine's Athalie. 

The Regency went wild over the drama, which had been 
frowned upon by Madame de Maintenon; and Voltaire, 
who remained to his dying day the incarnation of the 
Regency spirit, loved the stage in every capacity, as a 
playwright, as an actor, as a spectator. He realized what 
a unique opportunity for the propagation of ideas this 
gathering of twelve or fifteen hundred people offered him ; 
and he deliberately turned the stage into a philosophical 
pulpit. In his very first play, (Edipus (1718) , he already 
aims his shafts at the clergy: "Priests are not what the 
foolish masses think: all their science reposes on our cre- 
dulity. 35 In Zaire (1732), he preaches tolerance or is it 
indifference? "On the banks of the Ganges I should have 
been a slave to false gods ; in Paris a Christian ; here I am 
a Moslem." In Mahomet a safe target he denounces 
the deceptions practiced by religious impostors, and the 
fanaticism of their disciples (1742) ; in Merope, he denies 
the claims of an hereditary aristocracy: "He who serves 
his country worthily needs no ancestors" ; and he justifies 
in advance the parvenu Emperor, the son of the Revolu- 
tion: "The first king was but a fortunate soldier" (174*5) . 
As he grew more absorbed in the philosophical struggle, 
his plays became more openly propaganda tracts in the 
form of versified dialogues. 

Voltaire was not alone in using the stage for such a 
purpose; even Marivaux, the delicate and sophisticated 
analyst of love, is not averse to a "philosophical" touch 
in the midst of his badinage. Nivelle de la Chaussee cre- 
ated that lamentable hybrid, the "lachrymose comedy": 
but he made it a comedy with a purpose, the distant fore- 
runner of the "problem play," and he denounced The 
Prejudice in Fashion (1735) with the same earnestness 
with which Brieux seeks to enlighten and uplift our con- 
temporaries. Diderot's "middle-class tragedies," The 

246 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Natural Son (1757), The Father of the Family (1758), 
were social manifestoes : not kings alone, but honest, hard- 
working men, deserve to be glorified on the stage. The 
same doctrine is preached, with much greater success, by 
his modest disciple Sedaine, in The Philosopher Without 
Knowing It (1765), an exaltation of the Third Estate a 
quarter of a century before Sieyes. The wounded patri- 
otism of France, betrayed by a preposterous government, 
found vent in the success of The Siege of Calais, by Du 
Belloy (1765). The drama is preeminently a social art: 
Rousseau, in Ms rebellion against artificial society, did 
not fail to reserve a very special curse for the stage ; and 
nothing did more to envenom the inevitable quarrel be- 
tween him and Voltaire. But, in spite of Rousseau, the 
drama retained its prestige and intensified its action up 
to the very end of the ancient regime. The performance, 
after long delays, of Beaumarchais's Marriage of Figaro 
(1784) was a victory against the tottering world of privi- 
lege; and the tocsin that sounded so melodramatically in 
M-J. Chenier's Charles IX or The School for Kings 
(1789) was said to toll the knell of absolutism. 


The Salon is not, therefore, the only Temple of So- 
ciety ; but it shows society in its perfection, and the eigh- 
teenth century saw the unquestioned reign of the Salon. 
We do not forget the great part played by the Hotel de 
Rambouillet in refining manners and over-refining style ; 
Preciosity had its points when the Precieuses were such 
as Madame de Lafayette and Madame de Sevigne; and 
the famous Hotel, which had sponsored the thin reputa- 
tion of Voiture, was able also to acknowledge the glory 
of Corneille. Still, the sphere of the seventeenth-century 
Salon was limited. The greatest writers did not bow to 
its power: indeed, with Moliere, they might take a decided 
stand against it. During the personal reign of Louis 
XIV, after 1661, the Court, greatest of aU Salons, threw 
all the rest into the shade. 

The New Sovereign: Society Under Louis XV 47 

In the eighteenth century, on the contrary, the influ- 
ence of the Salon is multiplied and intensified. The Court 
no longer is the sole center of social power : indeed, it be- 
comes comparatively unimportant. There are minor 
courts, like those of the Duchess of Maine at Sceaux, or of 
the Grand Prior, Vendome, at the Temple : but the charm- 
ing business of "entertaining" was not the monopoly of 
princes. The nobility, high and low, nobility of the sword 
and nobility of the gown, did their share. The financiers 
had their Salons also : and as the hosts were wealthy far 
above the average of the older classes, freer from preju- 
dices, compelled by limitations from above to extend their 
social circles into new realms, their gatherings were un- 
usually rich in interest. We shall see how a mere bour- 
geoise, Madame Geoffrin, succeeded in becoming one of 
the social powers, not in Paris only, but in Europe. 

The Salon is not a literary or a political institution: 
the pleasure of meeting congenial acquaintances is its es- 
sential aim: Philosophy is a by-product. Many of the 
Salons were not "philosophical" at all. A pleasing little 
curtain-raiser, The Circle, or the Fashionable Evening, 
by Poinsinet de Sivry, gives us the tone of these parties : 
we have heard more profound talk in Texas. Conversa- 
tion was then truly "Art for Art's Sake": the subject 
mattered little, provided the proper tone of airy courtesy 
be maintained. If a secondary purpose existed, it was 
flirtation: the highly expert fencing of wits so well re- 
ported by Marivaux, in which, after a long assault, a 
conventional heart of red cloth stitched on your breast 
might be touched by a capped foil. Society did not allow 
itself to be infected with the pedantry of philosophy: it 
was philosophy that was tinged with what may be called 
the pedantry of society a tone of artificial levity, a ges- 
ture of apology for every lapse into seriousness. It was 
this tone that Montesquieu adopted to perfection in his 
Persian Letters; and the habit so clung to him that even 
in his vast and solid masterpiece, De L 9 Esprit des Lois 
(On the Spirit of Laws) , we too often find De UEsprit 
sur les Lois (Witticisms about Laws). 

248 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Eighteenth-century literature, it has often been re- 
marked, is but "written conversation." Hence its accessi- 
bility, and also its apparent shallowness. Frequently that 
mask of smiling ease covered much earnestness and power: 
but posterity is pardonable in judging a period by the 
attitude it assumes. It is almost impossible to be fair 
with the age of Voltaire : so much of its activity was spent 
in conversations that have evaporated for ever. And even 
when records exist, they can not be fully adequate : con- 
versation is a constant give and take, and requires a par- 
ticular atmosphere. We can hardly understand the repu- 
tation of famous wits like Piron, Chamfort, RivaroL 
Their best epigrams have no inner glow; they were jewels 
cut to catch and reverberate the light that was about 
them; the light is out and the sparkle is gone. We feel 
that we have only vestiges of the great ebullient force that 
was Diderot ; and we can not sufficiently thank the Fates 
that kept Voltaire so long away from Paris, thus com- 
pelling him to write much of the wit and wisdom that 
otherwise he would merely have talked. 

It was in the Salon of the Marquise de Lambert that the 
new type was first seen in its perfection. Born in 1647, 
the Marquise had lived through the great days of Louis 
XIV, when the traditions of the Hotel de Rambouillet 
were still unf orgotten. She was an energetic woman who, 
on her husband's death, had to fight, and fought success- 
fully, in order to keep in her hands the management of 
her estate. It was not until 1710 that her Salon was fairly 
launched; the waning prestige of the Court made that 
success possible ; and she remained a power until she died, 
in 1733. Even through the worst days of the Regency, 
Madame de Lambert succeeded in preserving, in her gath- 
erings, a tone of scrupulous respectability. Card-play- 
ing, the sole purpose of many social circles, was rigor- 
ously banned from her drawing-rooms. On Tuesday, she 
entertained the aristocracy; on Wednesday, the men of 
letters ; but, between the two sets, there were many chan- 
nels of communication. 

The Academy was one. It had never been purely a 
learned body: in the eighteenth century, its social char- 

The New Sovereign: Society Under Louis XV 249 

acter was more clearly emphasized than ever before or 
since. The Academy itself was a Salon, or rather a club, 
where talented commoners, magistrates, noblemen could 
meet, in a dignified and f riendly atmosphere, and on a 
footing of strict equality. A Duclos (1704-1772), a 
mere adventurer of letters, whose thin reputation had 
grown mainly in coffee houses and drawing-rooms, was 
able successfully to withstand the claims of a Prince de 
Clermont, a Marshal de Belle-Isle, who expected special 
privileges within the Academy in virtue of their rank. As 
women could not become Academicians, they took their 
revenge by making academicians oftentimes far less 
worthy of the distinction than themselves. It was fem- 
inine favour that made Abbe de Bernis an Immortal at 
twenty-nine, just as it was his pretty verses on Madame 
de Pompadour's dimples that opened to him the highest 
positions in the state. 1 The Salon of Madame de Lambert 
was called the ante-chamber of the Academy; the name 
was afterwards applied to the little circle of Julie de Les- 
pinasse; and the tradition of hostesses as powers behind 
the academic armchair has been preserved to our very 

Fontenelle was an assiduous visitor of Madame de Lam- 
bert's, as well as an Academician nay, a triple Acade- 
mician. President Henault (1685-1770) was a member 
of the same group. There is perhaps no better example 
of the Society spirit in the eighteenth century. Wealthy, 
brilliant, a leader of fashion, a master of wit, an epicure, 
the President made himself famous with his madrigals, his 
songs and his good dinners. But like his friend Voltaire, 
he had his serious side. He seems to have given some at- 
tention to the duties of his profession; and he wrote, 
among a number of legal, historical and even dramatic 
works, a Chronological Epitome which was one of the 
most successful books of the time. He adorned many Sa- 
lons, including his own, as well as two Academies. 

Madame de Lambert was eminently respectable : so was 

1 Bernis even became a Cardinal: but it was against the desire of his 
former protectress, Madame de Pompadour; and he redeemed the levity 
of his early career in the course of a long and honourable life. 

50 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Madame de Tencin, after her stormy and somewhat pro- 
longed youth was over. A nun who grew weary of the 
cloister, she was as resolute an adventuress as we find In 
the chronicles of society. She was charming, and deter- 
mined to make profitable use of her charms. The Regent 
was one of her conquests: but, as he refused to mix up 
love affairs and politics, she transferred her affections to 
the all-powerful Dubois. She gambled successfully dur- 
ing the feverish days of Law's "System. 59 She and her 
brother, well assorted, played into each other's hands with 
a touching sense of family loyalty: Tencin ultimately be- 
came a Cardinal. As an incident in her wild career, Ma- 
dame de Tencin gave to the world Jean Le Rond, known 
as d'Alembert, the mathematician and encyclopaedist; 
but, as she abandoned him at birth, the world and 
d'Alembert very properly refrained from showing her 
any gratitude. It is a redeeming point in Louis XV that 
her very name "made his flesh creep," even at the time 
when she numbered Pope Benedict XIV among her cor- 
respondents. Yet she had become a gracious and thought- 
ful hostess, and early scandals were hushed into polite 
oblivion. "A most excellent woman," said Chamf ort after 
a ^it "Yes," Abbe Trublet replied: "if she had to give 
you poison, she would see to it that it was properly sweet- 
ened." Fontenelle, the spoilt centenarian, regretted her: 
"She always gave me my favourite dishes, 5 * he sighed at 
the news of her death. 

Like Madame de Tencin, Madame du Deffand had her 
fling in the riotous days of the Regency. She too re- 
formed, and, in 1739, opened her Salon, which immedi- 
ately attained great prestige. President Henault, the 
universal favourite, was devoted to her, and visited her 
every day. The aristocracy of all Europe sought admis- 
sion into the charmed circle of her society. Madame du 
Deffand was not one of your self-effacing hostesses: no 
woman of the eighteenth century had a sharper wit. Her 
epigrams and her letters would do credit to Voltaire him- 
self : indeed, Voltaire respected her as an equal. She had 
no spark, however, of the reforming zeal that burned in 

The New Sovereign: Society Under Louis XV 

the Patriarch; she remained, until her death in 1780, 
cool, aristocratic, somewhat cynical. For the enthusiasm 
and the Romantic eloquence of Rousseau, she had nothing 
but contempt. Sentiment, which she spurned, was des- 
tined to win a cruel revenge. When she was nearly sev- 
enty, and blind, she actually fell in love with Horace Wai- 
pole, a middle-aged worldling, not to say a fop. Walpole 
was too clever not to appreciate the keen intellect and the 
splendid social position of Madame du Deffand; but, 
mortally afraid of ridicule, he hardly knew how to ac- 
knowledge her strange and belated passion. 


Madame du Deffand had a companion and assistant, 
Julie de Lespinasse, who, without birth, wealth or beauty, 
was fascinating. She proved such an attraction in Ma- 
dame du Deffand's Salon that she felt able, and wanted, 
to rule a circle of her own. The most trusted friends of 
the house would meet in Julie's private apartment, before 
the Marquise was ready to receive them. When Madame 
du Deffand discovered this secret rivalry, a bitter quarrel 
broke out. Julie left her irate protectress, and, without re- 
sources, managed to set up a modest Salon. To Madame 
du Deff and's intense disgust, she was followed in her seces- 
sion by many notable members of the group. The loss 
that was most sharply felt was that of d'Alembert, who 
had been a very special protege of the Marquise's. Now 
d'Alembert became the chief ornament of Julie's upstart 
drawing-room, and made it the social headquarters of the 

D'Alembert was in love with Julie, with more ardour 
than was to be expected from his cool, intellectual nature ; 
but he believed that she was all intellect, and far above the 
common weaknesses of the heart. Neither the cloister, 
nor the Salon, neither mysticism nor "Enlightenment" can 
alter the essential traits of human nature: time was to 
reveal that the brilliant, philosophical Julie could love as 

252 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

ardently, as foolishly, as tragically, as any Romantic 
heroine : but, alas ! not her devoted d'Alembert. 

Madame Geoffrin, at fourteen, married a wealthy man- 
ufacturer of forty-eight, and, for seventeen years, seemed 
satisfied with her unassuming household. Then she began 
her social career, under the leadership of Madame de 
Tencin; and, with marvelous pertinacity, the modest 
bourgeoise succeeded in establishing the most brilliant and 
the most substantial social empire of the time. Monsieur 
Geoffrin, of course, was left far behind in that strenuous 
climb : when he died, the habitues learned for the first time 
who the plain gentleman was, who used to sit so silently 
at the lower end of the table. Madame Geoffrin could not 
be presented at the French Court: but she numbered 
Catherine of Russia and Gustavus III of Sweden among 
her friends; and the King of Poland, Stanislaus Ponia- 
towski, with many other celebrities in Europe, loved to 
call her "Martian" She never was dazzlingly beautiful; 
she was not witty, like Madame du Deff and, nor magnetic, 
like Julie de Lespinasse. But she was tactful: she knew 
how to give rein to the boldest minds, yet to check them 
gently with her favourite phrase: "Voila qui est bien!" 
"That will do !" when their paradoxes went beyond the 
limits of good taste ; she was kind, in spite of her calculat- 
ing ambition; and she could afford to be open-handed. 
She had a special day for men of letters, and one for art- 
ists : she was among the first to discover the social possi- 
bilities of painters, sculptors and musicians. Boucher, 
La Tour, Van Loo, were among her friends; Rameau 
played on her clavecin; and, of course, she scooped the 
young prodigy Mozart when he came to Paris. 

In all these Salons except Julie de Lespinasse's, the 
main purpose was social. Philosophers were welcome; 
they were even lionized, since philosophy was in fashion ; 
but the hostesses did not fully commit themselves to their 
party. We have seen that Julie, on account of her friend- 
ship with d'Alembert, was more actively engaged in the 
great intellectual battle; Madame d'Epinay, through 

The New Sovereign: Society Under Louis XV 253 

Grimm and Diderot, was also identified with the Encyclo- 
paedist group. She was Rousseau's benefactress : personal 
grievances, as well as divergences of opinion, turned them 
into enemies. Her Memoirs, freely edited, and his Con- 
fessions, were documents in the long and bitter quarrel. 

Baron d'Holbach (1723-1789) is better remembered 
for the excellence of his dinners than for his materialistic 
System of Nature (1770) ; he provided sumptuously for 
such guests as Buffon, d'Alembert, Diderot, Helvetius, 
Grimm, Raynal, Marmontel, Condillac, Turgot: he was 
called the Philosopher's Butler, which is glory enough for 
any German baron. Helvetius (17151771) was likewise 
wealthy and hospitable. A tax-gatherer with a heart, a 
plutocrat with a mind, he, like d'Holbach, contributed 
a famous book (On Intellect), as well as lavish entertain- 
ment, to the philosophical campaign. Madame Helvetius 
was a charming woman, who, after her husband's death, 
kept up her connection with such men as Condillac, d'Hol- 
bach, Jefferson : it is said that both Franklin and Turgot 
wanted to marry her. If she was fond of philosophers, 
she was rio less fond of animals, and her distinguished 
friends fou*rd her house cluttered up with cats and dogs, 
hens and birds. The last of the great "Philosophical" 
salons was that of Necker; Madame Necker proved that 
a devoted wife could also be a very successful hostess. 
Young Germaine Necker, who was to be Madame de 
Stael, was brought up in the exhilarating atmosphere of 
Parisian society just before the Revolution. She yearned 
incurably for that lost Paradise: to keep up the great 
tradition of the liberal salon remained her dearest wish. 
But the Revolution broke out; and when it ended, One 
was in control, who could only command, not converse. 


All these salons were in Paris, whose social dictatorship 
had become absolute, not in France only, but in Europe. 

254 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

The provinces, however, were not somnolent. Beside the 
court of Stanislaus Leczynski at Nancy and at Lune- 
ville, 1 there were many little capitals, with their "States, 5 * 
a formal assembly which at least brought the notables 
together, with their Parliaments and with their Acad- 
emies. It is significant that the award of a prize by the 
Academy of Dijon made Rousseau, hitherto a struggling 
musician, famous overnight: and the Academy of Dijon 
was only one of many. Social life needs peace and plenty ; 
and, in spite of a chaotic government, in spite of disasters 
beyond the frontiers, France enjoyed internal tranquil- 
lity, whilst, in the cities at least, there was a surprizing 
degree of prosperity. Nantes and Bordeaux, for in- 
stance, show to the present day architectural traces of 
their wealth and taste under the reign of Louis XV. So 
there was in provincial France a rich and enlightened 
bourgeoisie, with that most precious of luxuries, intelli- 
gent leisure. 

Between the capital and the provinces, there was fre- 
quent intercourse. Traveling was desperately slow ac- 
cording to modern standards a fortnight from Paris to 
Marseilles and, in the public coaches, woefully uncom- 
fortable. But for the rich, who had their own uncrowded 
conveyances, the yearly trip to Paris might very well be 
a leisurely picnic. Alfred de Vigny, immediately after 
the era of railroads had opened, could very weU sigh for 
the unhurried charm of the open road : 

"Qn n'entendra jamais piaffer sur une route 
Le pied vif du cheval sur les paves en feu: 
Adieu, voyages lents, bruits lointains qu'on ecoute f 
Le rire du passant, les retards de I'essieu, 
Les detours imprevus des pentes variees, 
Un ami rencontre, I is heures oubliees, 
L'espolr d'arriver tard dans un sauvage lieu.* 9 

The automobile has restored some of the conditions 

l The dethroned King of Poland, father of the Queen of France, had 
retained, by courtesy, his royal title, and been given for life the Duchy 
of Lorraine. 

The New Sovereign: Society Under Louis XV 255 

which Vigny was regretting : particularly "les retards de 
Yessieu" and "les detours imprevus" 

So, although the aristocracy was urbanized, and indeed 
excessively metropolitan, its members had not lost the 
habit of spending a few weeks on their country estates* 
and many a country gentleman came at least once a year 
to Paris. Buffon belonged to Montbard in Burgundy as 
well as to the capital; and Montesquieu, who lived mostly 
in his chateau at La Brede, was at home in the salons of 
Bordeaux as well as in those of the Parisian Faubourgs. 
As for Voltaire, he was ubiquitous, and wherever he was, 
at Cirey or at Luneville, at Sans-Souci or at Ferney 5 he 
was the Ambassador of Paris, he was Paris. 

Furthermore, these people corresponded enormously, 
correspondence supplying the needs now filled by the tele- 
graph, the telephone, the picture postcard and the daily 
press. Even the friends who met nearly every day in the 
same salons exchanged notes in the intervening hours. 
Voltaire's correspondence is by far his masterpiece: but 
Voltaire was only the first among his peers. The formal 
literature of the eighteenth century, however intelligent 
and tasteful, is apt to strike us as second-rate: it is 
pseudo-classical, without the plenitude and majesty of 
the preceding age. But if we open a collection of letters, 
we are not among periwigged ghosts : we listen to courtly, 
cheerful, incisive voices; we catch the half-mocking curl 
of the lip, the keen, not unkindly glint of the eye, that La 
Tour was able to picture in his marvelous pastels. 

Correspondence became, not merely a pleasure and a 
social duty, but a business. Noblemen, feeling themselves 
exiled in Austria, Poland or Sweden, craved for news 
from the Earthly Paradise on the banks of the Seine. 
Grimm 5 for instance, assisted by Diderot and Madame 
d'Epinay, conducted a professional "Correspondence" 
and had among his subscribers many foreign princes. 
The recipients were sworn to secrecy, and the collection 
of these letters was not published until 1812. Such se- 
crecy had its perils. The correspondence trade might be 
plied by adventurers of a much coarser type than Grimm; 

256 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

and it offered, in unscrupulous hands, admirable oppor- 
tunities for slander and blackmail. 

Art, under Louis XIV, had been overwhelmingly mo- 
narchical: there was no place in the sun except for Ver- 
sailles or the Louvre. Under an absentee King,^ Society 
picked up the neglected scepter. The stiff majesty of 
the seventeenth century disappeared : a style was evolved 
which created a perfect framework for the intelligent 
pleasures of the salon. In this domain also, the reaction 
against the splendid rigidity of the previous reign went 
too far. Even architecture, the soberest of all the arts, 
had its moment of licence and almost of debauchery : all 
lines had to be twisted and broken into elaborate curves. 
But the most extreme examples of Rocaille or Rococo 
ornamentation were decency itself, compared with the 
riotous developments of the style in Germany and Italy. 
The influence of Madame de Pompadour, a woman of 
classical strength of will and bourgeois common sense, 
was decidedly on the side of a more temperate taste. The 
result, about the middle of the century, was an art which, 
for interior decoration, remains unrivalled. The French 
themselves have grown weary of the everlasting Louis XV 
drawing room ; they have tried to escape from it into the 
less hackneyed regions of the exotic, the barbaric, the 
decadent, and the nondescript. But the Louis Quinze 
style, in its delicate cheerfulness, is an imperishable as the 
smile of Voltaire. 

Curiously enough, the earliest and most perfect ex- 
ponent of this eighteenth-century spirit, the most Parisian 
of painters, as it would seem, was a Fleming, Watteau 
(1684-1721) ; and he developed the delightful resources 
of his art in the gloom of Louis XIV's decline. There is 
no absurdity in this double paradox. The reaction which 
broke out in 1715 had been brewing for over a decade: 
Watteau was expressing, not the professed ideal of his 
time, but its secret longing. Flanders is a land of jollity 
and high colour: in Watteau, the exuberant animal life 

The New Sovereign: Society Under Louis XV 257 

of Rubens is refined, subdued through Parisian influences, 
toned down by the national background of despair. Even 
during the Regency, Watteau never became coarse in his 
depiction of pleasure. His silken mincing puppets, whilst 
they dance or play the lute in dreamy gardens, or em- 
bark for the vaporous isle of Cytherea, "hardly seem to 
believe in their happiness" : 

Tout en chantant sur le mode minenr 
If amour vamqueur et la 'Die opportune, 
Us n'ont pas I'air de croire a leur "bonhenr 9 
Et leur chanson se mele an clair de lune. . . . 

His rivals and immediate successors, Lancret and 
Pater, were the graceful interpreters of the Regency 
spirit. Nattier, in his semi-mythological portraits, com- 
bined delightfully a remnant of classical formality with 
the frivolity of the prevailing mood. The brothers Van 
Loo were also great favourites. But the best representa- 
tives of the age were La Tour and Boucher. We have 
already alluded to La Tour's rich collection of pastel por- 
traits, the best known of which are Voltaire's in his early 
maturity, and Madame de Pompadour's. Whoever is 
tempted to blaspheme the eighteenth century should look 
again at these eager, earnest, cheerful faces. If we could 
extract from La Tour's works a composite picture, we 
should entitle it: The Genius of Polite Society. Boucher 
reveals a more questionable aspect of the Pompadour era: 
with some injustice, it is rather better remembered than 
the intellectual keenness so well rendered by La Tour. 
Watteau's personages were embarking for the Isle of 
Love, lost in a silvery mist: those of Boucher have reached 
the end of their journey. There is nothing actually im- 
proper or even suggestive in his mythological or pastoral 
scenes, as there was in the works of many minor painters 
and engravers of the time: but his art is a frank deifica- 
tion of pleasure. The background of Boucher's pictures 
is frequently conventional; his drawing is not above re- 
proach; there is about his soft and luminous goddesses 

258 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

none of the wistful dreaminess that makes Watteau a 
great poet of love : yet it would be pedantry or worse to 
dismiss him with contempt. He stands for the extreme 
maturity of unmitigated hedonism. Louis XV was to fol- 
low the creed to its logical end : but society and art had 
already rebelled against it; and we shall see that, whilst 
in the fifties Boucher had lost none of his vogue, the suc- 
cess of Chardin and Greuze heralded a different spirit. 



I. "Philosophy," destructive and constructive. Active Hu- 
manism. Practical sense. 

II. English Influence at every turn. Montesquieu and the 
British Constitution. 

III. Voltaire. Many-sided activity. Conservatism. Fight 
against "I/Iname"; L e., fanaticism. 

IV. Science* Buffon. The Encyclopedia. Diderot. 

V. Primitivism vs. Progressivism : Rousseau. 

THE eighteenth century is known as the age of "Phi- 
losophy," "Enlightenment, 55 or "Reason. 55 Every 
one of these terms has to be used with a capital and 
with inverted commas. The one most current at the time, 
"Philosophy, 55 is also the most ambiguous. If by phi- 
losophy we mean metaphysical speculation, then few 
epochs were more devoid of the philosophical spirit than 
the time of Voltaire. No Frenchman of note, in the eigh- 
teenth century, cared to rear one of those somber dream- 
fabrics, or to write one of those obscure symbolical poems 
that go by the name of "philosophies. 55 Voltaire and 
Hegel are at the very antipodes of human thought. If 
the word "philosopher 55 evokes in our minds a picture of 
simplicity and austerity, a Stoic proudly draped in his 
cloak, a Cynic casting away the last vestige of luxury, 
then Rousseau might deserve the name: but what about 
the witty, sociable, pleasure-loving contemporaries and 
proteges of Madame de Pompadour? If philosophy con- 
notes an amused or lofty detachment from mundane af- 
fairs, the sensitive, combative, hard-working Encyclopae- 
dists, as well as Rousseau and Voltaire, must be ruled out. 
An eighteenth century "Philosopher 55 was essentially a 
critic of abuses and a promoter of reforms. G. B. Shaw 


260 Tie Life and Death of an Ideal 

and H. G. Wells would be recognized by Voltaire as fel- 
low "philosophers," and the ghost of the Encyclopedia 
can be seen vaguely flitting through such American pe- 
riodicals as The New Republic and The Nation. 

The philosophy of the eighteenth century is not a sys- 
tem, but a spirit. The essence of that spirit had been 
clearly expressed by two immediate forerunners of the 
age, Bayle and Fontenelle: "Errors are none the better 
for being old" ; "Authority has ceased to have more weight 
than reason." The "Enlightenment" therefore is not sim- 
ply "modern" every period was modern once ; it is "mod- 
ernistic." It refuses to accept blindly the dictates of 
tradition. Thoughts, beliefs, institutions, must stand on 
their own merits in terms of to-day : if they seek to elude 
the test, they are ruled out as prejudices, superstitions 
and abuses. The eighteenth century is frankly icono- 
clastic : not only does it freely indulge in destructive criti- 
cism, but it revels in it. The absurd contrast between 
obsolete claims and actual values is the source of ironical 
amusement rather than righteous indignation. Louis 
XV, who was not wholly impervious to the spirit of his 
reign, chuckled at the thought that he was "the Lord's 

It is obvious, however, that the spirit of the eighteenth 
century was not sheer nihilism with a gay mask of flip- 
pancy. Much had to be blasted, no doubt, and the debris 
had to be cleared away : not always an easy task, and fre- 
quently a dangerous one. But the Enlightenment, on the 
whole, is positive, and without paradox may be defined as 
"Faith, Hope, and Charity" : faith in human reason, hope 
in human progress, charity in the Pauline sense under 
the name of "philanthropy" and "bienfaisance." The 
age, which is so frequently labeled cynical, and which was 
to end in blood, was thoroughly humane, much more hu- 
mane than the Renaissance or the century of Louis XIV. 
Its first exponent, the Regent, was not the best of men 
by any means, but he was among the most kindly. Mari- 
vaux, the delicate trifler, could find such a phrase as this : 
"In this world, we have to be too kind in order to be kind 

"Philosophy" 261 

enough." Montesquieu said: "I never could see tears with- 
out being moved"; and there was In sardonic Voltaire 
himself a quivering horror of cruelty. 

The Reason whose advent was hailed by Fontenelle was 
no longer the reasonableness of the preceding period: 
Cartesianism had done its work, and the age of self-satis- 
fied intellectual compromise was past. But neither was it 
the cult of abstract thought and of the geometric method. 
Taine, a rigid logician himself, has given the caricature 
rather than the formula of the classical spirit, when he 
denounced it as the love of generalities divorced from 
practical realities. Taine, like all honest and consistent 
thinkers, has done the world a great service: he has ex- 
plored a blind alley to the very end, and it is unlikely that 
his error will be repeated. 

We have already noted the evident aversion of the 
eighteenth century for metaphysical systems. Montes- 
quieu, Buffon, Diderot, had as good minds as the Ger- 
mans who, half a century or a century later, were so dex- 
terously to juggle with the Absolute : they were restrained, 
not by mediocrity, but by common sense. The French 
"Philosophers," up to Rousseau at any rate, were always 
exposing definite evils and proposing definite remedies: 
Voltaire's programme was intensely practical. We shall 
see that all "philosophers" also took intelligent interest in 
science, and not exclusively in the abstract science of 
mathematics ; they were fonder of observation and experi- 
mentation than of mere reasoning ; their master was Bacon 
at least as much as Descartes. Finally, they did not live 
in the artificial solitude of their library: they haunted 
courts, drawing-rooms, academies, coffee-houses. They 
were in constant touch with the general public, with men 
of affairs, with magistrates, with ministers, even with 
rulers: would to God the "Radicals" of to-day had as 
good a chance ! Such contact would prove fatal to empty 
theories. Contemporary America is still living on the 
heritage of the Enlightenment: and no one has ever ac- 
cused her of lacking practical sense. 

262 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 


"Philosophy" is England's gift to France, No douht 
the movement could be explained without taking foreign 
influences into account : Emile Faguet, for instance, man- 
aged to write a brilliant chapter on Montesquieu with 
only the most casual references to Great Britain. The 
Renaissance would have come, even though Italy had dis- 
appeared from the map; the Enlightenment was on its 
way, and could not have been denied, even though France 
had continued to ignore the culture of her northern neigh- 
bour. But the Renaissance did assume a strong Italian 
tinge, and the Enlightenment is almost inseparable from 

Strangely enough, that age in which the two nations 
borrowed most freely from each other was also one of 
bitterest political hostility between them. From 1688 to 
1815, there raged an almost uninterrupted series of 
Anglo-French conflicts, which has aptly been called "the 
Third Hundred- Years'-War." Between campaigns nay, 
during campaigns English gentlemen hastened to the 
Paris salons, where they found the most courteous wel- 
come. It is hard to realize that Horace Walpole or Gib- 
bon, in France, were "enemies." Fashions in clothes, car- 
riages, sports, gardens, literature, science, politics, con- 
stantly crossed and re-crossed the Channel. On the whole, 
France received more than she gave. Politically and eco- 
nomically, England was rising fast. Material ascendancy 
is not sufficient to ensure cultural prestige: but, if de- 
served and prolonged, it greatly contributes even to spiri- 
tual influence. It may be added that, in so borrowing, 
France was getting back her own: for England had never 
been so classical as she was then, nor, since the Middle 
Ages, so Frenchified. London and Paris in the eighteenth 
century were close enough to be mutually intelligible, dif- 
ferent enough to be stimulating. The masters of French 
thought were no longer Montaigne, Descartes and Pascal, 
but Bacon, Locke, Newton, and the "Deists," Toland, 

"Philosophy" 6S 

Collins, Woolston, Tindal, Shaftesbury. Similarly, a 
hundred years later, the models of the French poets are 
not to be sought in the French tradition, but in the works 
of Shakespeare, Byron, Walter Scott and "Ossian. 55 

Marivaux wrote a French Spectator; Montesquieu dis- 
covered the British Constitution; Voltaire was not Vol- 
taire until he had breathed the air of London; Abbe 
Prevost, the author of Manon Lescaut, translated, 
adapted and imitated abundantly the British novels of 
the time. Buff on traveled with the young Duke of Kings- 
ton; his favourite authors were Milton and Richardson; 
and a portrait of Newton adorned his study. Diderot, 
the most original of the French Philosophers, borrowed 
from Chambers the idea of his Encyclopedic Dictionary, 
and from Lillo his theory of the middle class tragedy. 
The thought of Rousseau is steeped in English deism ; Irs 
love for nature found sympathetic echoes in the French 
public, because English influences had already made that 
sentiment popular; the epistolary form and the moraliz- 
ing spirit of his most successful work, J^ie or the New 
Heloise, were taken from Richardson. In the face of such 
patent facts we have quoted only a few of the most ob- 
vious it seems almost incredible that eighteenth-century 
France should have been accused of self-complacency, of 
unwillingness to learn from others. 

The sprightly daring and the occasional riskiness of the 
Persian Letters (1721) hardly indicated that their anony- 
mous author was a provincial magistrate, already Chief 
Justice at the Parliament of Bordeaux. Montesquieu 
found himself famous overnight. We are never allowed to 
forget, even in his gravest studies, that he made his debuts 
as a wit, and remained in close touch with the most de- 
lightful salons in Paris. But he was much more than a 
clever satirist. He gave up the details of procedure, for 
which he had little taste; sold his office, and devoted him- 
self to his magnum opus, a treatise on comparative legis- 
lation, The Spirit of Laws. First of all, he traveled for 

264 Tlie Life and Death of an Ideal 

three years, visiting Austria, Hungary, the different cities 
and states of Italy, the Netherlands and England (1728- 
1731) ; then he returned to his country estate, and la- 
boured for seventeen years at his gigantic task : such were 
the methods of the "hasty," "shallow 5 * and "flippant 55 
eighteenth century. When the work appeared in 1748, 1 
its triumph was immediate : twenty editions were absorbed 
in as many months. Voltaire said nobly: "Mankind had 
lost its titles : M. de Montesquieu has restored them. 55 His 
singularly even, full and happy career came to an end in 

Montesquieu was no a priori theorist: his work was 
based on a long and patient investigation of Europe as it 
was in his day, and of all available history. He had no 
tendency unduly to simplify the problem: his very title 
recognized its complexity: On the Spirit of Laws, or On 
the Relations which must exist between the Laws and the 
Constitution of each Government, the Manners, Climate, 
Religion, Commerce, etc. He was no radical: despotism, 
the rule of fear, he abhors; but, for a true republic, he 
sets such a hard condition (it must be founded on "vir- 
tue' 5 ) that democracy should be ruled out also. His ideal 
is a monarchical but not despotic government, based on 
the sentiment of honour, and limited by the privileges of 
intermediate powers. Like Fenelon and Saint-Simon, 
Montesquieu regrets the growth of absolutism under the 
Bourbons : in former times, there were checks on the ex- 
cessive preponderance of the crown. But he is too much 
of a historian to indulge in retrospective dreams. He 
points to a living ideal : in England, a happy balance has 
been attained. This result was reached through the sepa- 
ration and proper adjustment of the three "Powers, 55 
executive, legislative, and judiciary. It was Montesquieu 
who first extracted for the rest of the world an intelligible 
scheme out of that chaos of precedents vaguely known as 
the British Constitution. If, later, too mechanical a copy 

1 The Considerations on the Grandeur of the Romans and their De- 
cadence, which may be considered as a detached chapter, came out in 

* Philosophy** 265 

of the British, system was forced upon the French* Mon- 
tesquieu was not wholly to blame. Had his free and cau- 
tious spirit been followed, the elements of a new regime 

might have been sought in the purely French tradition. 


Voltaire lived at least nine lives, all full to the brim. 
He was a keen business man, and amassed a large fortune 
through numberless speculations. He was an official per- 
sonage, admitted to the Court of Louis XV and to that 
of Stanislaus Leczynski, entrusted with semi-official diplo- 
matic missions, a chamberlain of Frederick the Great. 
He was acknowledged as the greatest writer of his time 
in the noble and academic branches of literature: his 
Henriad was the most successful approach to a national 
epic that classical France had known ; on the tragic stage, 
he was acclaimed as the worthy successor of Corneille and 
Racine. He was, however, infinitely greater in non-aca- 
demic literature, in madrigals, epigrams, satires, philo- 
sophical tales, pamphlets, and especially familiar letters. 
He was, wherever he went, a brilliant society light, at the 
Temple or at Sceaux, in London, at Cirey, at Luneville, 
at Sans-Souci, at Ferney. He was more than an amateur 
scientist: his experiments in physics may be of trifling 
value, but he understood and translated Newton at a time 
when official savants were still demurring. He was the 
founder of modern history: the all-embracing history of 
a civilization in his Century of Louis XIV, world history 
in his Essay on Manners, and he did enough serious work 
in that single line to make his fame secure. He turned 
into the ideal country squire, the village Providence, the 
enlightened despot, a Frederick II in miniature. And, at 
the same time, he had become King Voltaire, the Patri- 
arch, the supreme court of appeal for all victims of in- 
justice and intolerance. In the intervals, he found leisure 
to squabble meanly about a few cords of wood, to be quar- 
relsome, absurdly vainglorious, mendacious, scurrilous, 

266 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

indecent the epitome of an age which could read with 
delight his unspeakable and tedious Pucelle, and, the next 
moment, shed the noblest tears. When he returned to 
Paris at eighty-four, dying of course, as he had been all 
his life, he galvanized even the drowsy Academy ; blessed 
young America in the person of Franklin's grandson and 
in the name of "God and Liberty" ; and was finally killed 
by a surfeit of popular adoration. 

Voltaire was even less of an abstract theorist than Mon- 
tesquieu: indeed he called Montesquieu sharply to task 
for venturesome affirmations. He too was a painstaking 
investigator: his Charles XII was not superseded for at 
least a hundred years; his Louis XIV remains a monu- 
ment of scholarship; and even his Essay on Manners, 
which, of its very nature, could only be a compilation, is 
at least a very diligent critical abstract of the best sec- 
ondary authorities. He was singularly conservative: he 
wanted to destroy abuses, not to overthrow the existing 
regime. He would have spared the abuses rather than 
hack blindly at the roots of society: his tolerant phi- 
losophy is admirably summed up in his charming apo- 
logue : Babouc, or the World as it goes. Even in religion, 
he was no mere scoffer. His theism, somewhat trite to be 
sure, was undoubtedly sincere. He knew the Bible, ap- 
preciated its beauties, and recommended it to Madame du 
Deffand. "It would be a mistake to consider him as a 
consistent anti-Christian, anti-Catholic or even anti- 
clerical. He would probably have risen high in the An- 
glican hierarchy and deserved it better than Swift. Al- 
though the very obstreperous child of Holy Mother 
Church, he remained within the fold. He lived and died a 
Catholic, and his worst pranks are those of a son of the 
house, not of a stranger. He preserved a curious fond- 
ness for his old masters the Jesuits ; he corresponded with 
the Pope and received his blessing ; he was made, for some 
neighbourly service, an honorary member of the Capuchin 
order, and for a time liked to sign himself : Friar Franfois, 
unworthy Capuchin. He built a Church : Deo erexit Vol- 
taire* He took his hat off to processions : *We are not on 

" Philosophy " 267 

speaking terms5 but we salute each otter.* He compelled 
Ms vicar by legal means to hear his confession and give 
him Easter communion. He desired Christian burial ; and 
it is said that Madame de Pompadour took it into her 
head that he should become a Cardinal like Dubois and 
de Bernis which would have added a supreme touch to 
the whole eighteenth century. Voltaire is an inseparable 
part of Catholicism, the gracioso of the great Miracle 
play, the grinning gargoyle of the eternal cathedral. 5 * 

What he hated, what he wanted to crush, was I'Infame, 
Fanaticism, Protestant fanaticism as well as Catholic 
fanaticism. The Rousseauistic fanaticism of Robespierre 
would have been abhorrent to him, as it was to his disciple 
Anatole France. Virtue he respected, even under the 
monk's cowl : pretence and cruelty he could not bear. He 
was a fighter, and no fighting can be done without atroci- 
ties ; he is scarred and battle-stained, but we have profited 
by his toils. His work is done: too completely for his 
fame, for it takes an effort now to realize how bitterly it 
was needed. But even to-day, Voltairian irony remains 
a useful weapon to keep in reserve, in case "VInfame" 
Intolerance, should raise its head again. 


Science was then inseparable from "Philosophy. 55 Fon- 
tenelle was the first notable example of such an alliance ; 
Montesquieu read before the Academy of Bordeaux 
papers on sundry questions of physics and natural his- 
tory. Voltaire wrote memoirs for the Academy of Sci- 
ences and carried on experiments in collaboration with 
Madame du Chatelet. Even Rousseau, whose education 
was deplorably haphazard, was a botanist of some distinc- 
tion, and his disciple Bernardin de Saint-Pierre had some 
share in the reorganization of the Paris Botanical Garden. 
The living symbol of the place that science had assumed 
in French society was Buffon. There had been great sci- 
entists in France before him: but their position was, in 

268 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

a sense, eccentric. For the first time^ with Buff on, a 
scientist conquered a leading place in literature, purely 
as a scientist. 

His life was even simpler, fuller, nobler, than that of 
Montesquieu. He divided his time between two gardens : 
Ms own at Montbard, and the King's Garden the pres- 
ent Museum of Natural History of which he was the 
director. In Paris and in Burgundy, he worked with the 
same unhasting diligence. Legend chooses to remember 
Mm, majestically seated in his study* with elaborate lace 
cuffs that seem inseparable from his personality, inditing 
eloquent and somewhat stilted descriptions : "The noblest 
conquest that man has ever made is that of this proud 
and superb animal. . . ." TMs starched and periwigged 
element does exist in Buff on: Voltaire was not wholly 
wrong when he said of his Natural History: "Not so very 
natural!" But it is a minor aspect. Buff on was a gen- 
uine scientist, a patient observer, an indefatigable experi- 
menter, and, apart from a few purple patches, scrupu- 
lously simple and direct in expression. The majesty of 
his style, in his Epochs of Nature for instance, is the 
majesty of the theme, to which he was not unequal. He 
reminds us of his fellow Burgundian Bossuet, and, like 
Bossuet himself, of Biblical grandeur. In spite of a few 
artificial ornaments, he is a great scientific poet in prose, 
the modern Lucretius. 

Buff on remained aloof from the quarrels of his time: 
not out of prudent selfishness, but because he was gen- 
uinely above the strife, and dwelt in the temples serene. 
Aloof, not isolated: he was a true representative of the 
eighteenth century, in which he found himself perfectly 
at home, and which recognized ungrudgingly his tranquil 
greatness. He was loaded with official, academic and so- 
cial honours, which he bore with ease. In his case again, 
the legend that the eighteenth century was an age of 
frivolous scoffers breaks down completely. A hard worker 
like Montesquieu and Voltaire, he was, no less than they, 
a cautious thinker. He used classifications and hypoth- 
eses, without wMch the accumulation of details could 

"Philosophy" 269 

never be transmuted into science: but he used them only 
as instruments, not as idols. He too was impatient of 
vague generalities. We may add that among his hypoth- 
eses some have proved strangely prophetic. He adum- 
brated transf ormism and evolution long before Lamarck 
and Darwin, and the microbian theory a hundred years 
before Pasteur. 

The extraordinary position acquired by science may 
also be exemplified by the career of Lavoisier, contractor 
general of taxes, and founder of modern chemistry ; or by 
the reverend admiration with which Franklin, as a physi- 
cist, was received in Paris- This golden age of science 
was to last until the end of the Empire: the immediate 
successors of Buffon formed a splendid galaxy round the 
ruler who himself had sought membership in the Scientific 
Section of the Institute. Later, the Romantic reaction 
against the Enlightenment caused a partial eclipse of 
science as a main factor in national culture. The real- 
istic era, in the eighteen-fif ties, brought back the scientific 
ideal, but in harsher and far less humane form than in 
the days of Buffon. 

In the Encyclopaedia, all the elements of "Philosophy" 
are combined : English influences, criticism of abuses and 
superstitions, desire for reform, love of science, faith in 
progress. The starting-point was the Cyclopaedia, or Uni- 
versal Dictionary of Art and Sciences, of Ephraim Cham- 
bers (1728) : here again, England was in the lead. A 
publisher, Lebreton, conducted complicated and not over- 
scrupulous negotiations for a French adaptation of the 
work. Finally, a hack-writer, Diderot, who had success- 
fully completed the translation of a Medical Dictionary, 
remained chief editor, and, in 1750, sent out his pro- 
spectus. But that bohemian happened to be a man of 
genius, well acquainted in the "Philosophical" world, and, 
thanks to him, the Encyclopedia assumed a significance 
not found in its prototype, or in any of its successors. 

Merely from the material point of view, Diderot's re- 
sponsibilities were extremely heavy, and he faced them 
with matchless courage, industry and success. He con- 

270 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

tributed many valuable articles himself, on Philosophy 
and on the Arts and Crafts. He recruited, organized, 
inspired a notable team of workers. He had to contend 
with the timidity, and even with the dishonesty, of the 
publishers. He was constantly exposed to the hostility 
of the conservatives, and particularly of the Jesuits. 
Twice the work was condemned: but Diderot's tenacity 
was never shaken for long. He actually profited by the 
enmity of the Jesuits, who had powerful enemies at Court : 
"Les ennemis de nos ennemis sont nos amis" Choiseul 
and Madame de Pompadour protected the work. Males- 
herbes, who was entrusted with the official supervision of 
the book trade, was a powerful friend and even an accom- 
plice. The huge fabric finally reached completion, after 
more than twenty years (1772) : a "monster, 55 a hotch- 
potch, a veritable harlequin's coat: but the epitome of 
a singularly active and brilliant civilization. 

D'Alembert was at first associated with Diderot as 
editor-in-chief. His scientific fame, his official standing, 
the unblemished regularity of his life, lent to the enter- 
prise a tone of respectability which Diderot's bohemianisin 
could not have conferred. D'Alembert wrote the opening 
Discourse, a classification of sciences which expressed with 
cool lucidity the philosophy of the Enlightenment in its 
more constructive and more austere aspects. Tired with 
the profitless worries of his position, he soon left the sole 
editorship to Diderot. 

Among Diderot's other collaborators should be men- 
tioned Marmontel for literature; Quesnay and Turgot 
for political economy ; d'Holbach for chemistry ; Dauben- 
ton for natural history. The very greatest were enrolled : 
Montesquieu gave an article on Taste; Voltaire wrote 
many contributions, which he afterwards collected in his 
delightful miscellany, The Philosophical Dictionary. But 
above all, Voltaire, with unselfish devotion to the cause, 
made himself the press-agent, the lobbyist, the "office 
boy," as he put it, of the Encyclopaedia. To Rousseau 
was entrusted the article on Music. Buffon had promised 

Philosophy" 71 

to write on Nature: but, absorbed in an even larger en- 
cyclopaedia of his own, his vast Natural History y he could 
not redeem Ms pledge. Others, without being active col- 
laborators, were known to be in sympathy with the work, 
and are usually counted among the Encyclopaedists : Con- 
dillac the psychologist, Grimm the cosmopolitan journal- 
ist, Helvetitis, whose difficulties with the censorship created 
trouble for his personal friend Diderot and indirectly for 
the Encyclopaedia. Condorcet had a share in the supple- 
mentary volumes* He elaborated a great plan for public 
education ; and, rising superior to the horrors of the time, 
he gave in 1793 his Sketch of the Progress of the Hw- 
man Mind a noble confession of faith when faith was 
indeed the evidence of things unseen. 

It is the fate of scientific works to be superseded in less 
than a generation; the criticism of abuses is obliterated 
by its very success. So the Encyclopaedia was obsolete 
before the end of the ancient regime. Of all the passions, 
the learning, the wit that went into its composition, we 
find to-day nought but the cold ashes. Carlyle may tri- 
umph: the Encyclopedia is dead. The figure of Diderot, 
however, still stands, of truly heroic size, and unquench- 
ably alive* In addition to his formidable labour as book- 
seller's drudge, editor, compiler, he managed to scatter 
his coarse, cheerful, honest vitality in all possible fields: 
in dramatic theory and practice, alas ! in art-criticism, 
in licentious writing, in science, and above all, in phi- 
losophy. In all realms of thought, he was as much at 
home as when he met Catherine of Russia: in the history 
and discussion of ancient doctrines, in the threshing out 
of contemporary problems, in the rashest flights of Uto- 
pian fancy. 

With him again, as with Montesquieu, Voltaire, Buff on, 
we are struck with the keen sense of the eighteenth cen- 
tury for practical realities. Diderot, the son of an ar- 
tisan, studied the trades and crafts with indefatigable 
curiosity and care. The plates which illustrate his ar- 
ticles in the Encyclopaedia are models of usefulness as well 

The Life and Death of an Ideal 

as elegance. They prove once more, against all the clever 
theorizing of Taine, that the "Philosophers" did not live 
in a world of abstractions, with their heads in the clouds. 

In Fontenelle, Montesquieu, Voltaire, faith in science 
and progress was accompanied by faith in the condition 
of progress, i. e. 3 society, and in its material sign, i. e., 
luxury. They were intensely modern men, men of the 
study and of the drawing-room, exquisitely nurtured and 
cultured, and not without sophistication. But Nature, 
primitive Nature, which they were forgetting in their re- 
finement, was to have its revenge. 

The germ of this reaction is to be found in the "sophis- 
ticates" themselves. They had fearlessly denounced abuses 
in the name of common sense: but their criticism had 
struck deeper than they meant to go. Many of the forms 
of society were manifestly, absurdly wrong: but how 
many? and how wrong? Montesquieu and Voltaire, among 
others, had indulged in satires of our civilization from the 
point of view of a civilization totally different Persia or 
Sirius. No doubt their conclusion would have been, not to 
destroy, but to accept "the world as it goes," a world 
which they found amusing and comfortable. But the 
scepticism they had turned against certain traditional as- 
pects of civilization could be turned against civilization 
as a whole. To the "superstitions" of established religions 
was opposed the universal simplicity of natural religion ; 
to the chaos of customs and arbitrary legislation, the eter- 
nal majesty of natural law. The appeal to "Nature" 
against the vagaries of traditions was a commonplace of 
eighteenth-century philosophy. 

In a very literal sense, the life-work and the success of 
Buffon were signs of this "return to nature." In a more 
philosophical sense, the movement is best exemplified by 
Diderot. In Diderot we find again the "Naturalism" of 
Rabelais, his pantheistic faith in Physis, good Mother Na- 

"Philosophy" 273 

ture,his hatred of Antiphysis. Diderot was a nature-lover 
in every way. He took interest in the natural sciences, like 
most of his contemporaries; he had a genuine sense, al- 
most romantic in its intensity, for natural beauty ; above 
all, he trusted, like Rabelais, in the essential goodness of 
human nature. 

There were therefore in the middle of the eighteenth 
century two streams of thought: PROGRESSIVISM, 
faith in science, industry, civilization; and PRIMITIV- 
ISM, faith in unchangeable Nature. They coincided for 
a long time without conflict. Naturalism was used as a 
battering-ram against artificial survivals, abuses, super- 
stitions ; the destruction of these obstacles would open the 
way for genuine progress, for a civilization no longer out 
of harmony with "Nature." Both Progressivism and 
Primitivisra were aspects of "Reason" or "Philosophy" ; 
both had the same enemies: the worship of tradition, 
Christian orthodoxy. 

But the alliance between the two tendencies was pre- 
carious, and the possibility of conflict became apparent. 
Hence the subject proposed, for a prize contest, by the 
Academy of Dijon in 1749: "Whether the Restoration of 
Sciences and Arts (i. e. civilization, intellectual and mate- 
rial progress) has tended to corrupt or to purify Man- 
ners? 99 The theme was stated as a question: this is sig- 
nificant, although we may well believe that the judges 
would have been satisfied with the standard hymn of 
praise to Civilization. And Rousseau sprang into fame. 

The author was practically unknown a vagabond who 
was barely beginning to make his mark as a musician; 
the Academy of Dijon was a provincial body without any 
great prestige; the prize-winning discourse was not re- 
markable for wealth of information, or cogency of 
thought ; and many passages were written with a fulsome 
eloquence that was at the same time juvenile and anti- 
quated. Yet the response was immediate. It seemed as 
though a liberating word, long expected, had been uttered 
at last. Evidently Rousseauism was ready when Rousseau 
appeared: his success registered a widely spread state of 

274 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

mind. Of the two aspects of "Philosophy/ 5 Primitivism, 
once merely the auxiliary of Progressivism, was coming 

into its own. 

The Philosophers, who were still considering Rousseau 
as one of themselves, were at the same time delighted with 
his triumph and vaguely anxious. The wildest paradoxes 
were welcome, provided they would lead to intelligent 
compromise: but this bear from Switzerland was too con- 
sistent for Parisian comfort. Voltaire, more committed 
than any one to Progressivism (his Mondaln is an out- 
spoken defence, not only of civilization, but of the most 
refined and frailest flower of civilization, luxury), was 
also the one to recognize the danger most clearly. In his 
irreconcilable hostility to Rousseau, Voltaire was not urged 
primarily by his wounded vanity: he felt he was defend- 
ing the one true Philosophical Church against a heresiarch 
more dangerous than unbelievers. 

Rousseau was conscious that he had struck a mine. The 
attitude which his success forced upon him was doubly 
welcome : it conferred glory, and it released him from un- 
congenial trammels. His irregular education, his spiri- 
tual solitude, perhaps some physiological weakness, had 
made him unsociable. He was both insanely proud, and 
morbidly aware of his limitations. Society had not been 
unkind to him: but he had not taken it by storm; he 
never was absolutely at ease in it ; and he had often felt 
an intense desire to run away. It was a great relief to 
discover that Society was evil, and to be shunned ; run- 
ning away then was not a weakness, but a virtue. Self- 
taught, and in many fields wholly untaught, a dreamer, 
he was glad to give up the painful study of facts, as prac- 
ticed by Bayle, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot. It was 
so much easier to sweep away the facts ("Commenfons 
par ecarter les faits!" Discourse on Inequality) , and to 
strike one's heart! The other philosophers had a heart 
too, but they thought with their heads. Rousseau's was a 
philosophy of short-cuts: an admirable method, as long 
as there are no precipices in the way. In all this, the sin- 
cerity of Rousseau is not impugned: he adopted in good 

"Philosophy" 275 

faith the doctrines that put his talent and his weaknesses 
in the best possible light. 

The success of Rousseau was due to a double contradic- 
tion : the rationalization of unreason, and the codification 
of anarchy. Consistent primitivism would tear civiliza- 
tion down along with its abuses : property, without which 
there could be no theft; language, without which there 
could be no lies ; morality, without which there could be 
no sin. Then we would be restored to the happy state of 
animal innocence which is called the Earthly Paradise. 
This is Rousseau's logical conclusion: as Voltaire said: 
"No one could display more ingenuity in urging us to 
become beasts.' 5 Such a paradox would be amusing in 
two brief discourses: it could not be prolonged through 
several serious books. Rousseau had to compromise and 
to equivocate. He saved and destroyed in the same breath. 
In Emile, he gave us his idea of a natural education 
which still would be an education, that is to say a directed 
process. In Julie, he deals with the problem of a natural 
love-life, at the same time free and disciplined. In The 
Social Contract, he defines a state based upon Nature, yet 
more efficiently ordered than the present one. In no case 
is the result convincing. Emile's natural education is car- 
ried on under the most abnormal circumstances, and pro- 
ceeds through a series of comedies and "fakes." Julie dies 
just in time to be saved from adultery; and the Utopia 
outlined in the Social Contract was to be realized by 

"Philosophy," before Rousseau, had respected science, 
kept in touch with the immediate needs of society, en- 
joyed the amenities of civilization : all these were valuable 
elements, which made for sanity, caution, urbanity. 
Rousseau's triumph marked the advent of muddle-headed 
radicalism, the confusion of false simplicity. For this the 
man Rousseau was not responsible : he was but an instru- 
ment and a symptom. The trouble was due to the fact 
that general education had not kept pace with the ideas 
of Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot. "Philosophy," in un- 
trained minds, became coarser and more passionate. Hy- 

276 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

potheses hardened into affirmations, paradoxes into dog- 
mas, subtle speculation into rough logic; until,^as an ar- 
gument, the epigram was superseded by the guillotine. 

Coarseness, however, is not an all-sufficient explana- 
tion for the triumph of Rousseauism. Hlogically per- 
haps, the new creed was moralistic. Montesquieu and 
Voltaire, earnest workers though they were, had dallied 
with the elegant depravity of their time; they had sunk 
to the level of Crebillon Fils. It was a weakness, and 
they had to atone for it. Diderot had been as licentious 
as they, with less restraint in taste ; in addition, his "Nat- 
uralism" ignored some of the conventions that the world 
was not willing to discard. These critics of a corrupt 
society were not free from corruption. Rousseau turned 
the tables against them. He appealed to the vast number 
of men who hated at the same time prejudices and loose- 
ness. He showed that morality could be preached in the 
name of Nature as well as in the name of traditional au- 
thority. Intoxicated with their battle for intellectual 
freedom, the Philosophers had neglected moral discipline. 
A new Renaissance had to be followed by another Refor- 
mation. Calvin against Rabelais, Rousseau against Di- 
derot: the comparison is far from perfect, but, as an indi- 
cation, it will serve. 

There was therefore a wholesome side to Primitivism, 
a breaking away from sophistication and perfumed per- 
versity. It was a rough blast from the open, which de- 
stroyed and purified. It did blow down the fabric of the 
ancient regime, with immense losses to civilization. Had 
the rotten timber been replaced in time, Rousseauism 
would have created no peril. 

The history of civilization must consider Rousseauism 
as a collective phenomenon, of which Rousseau himself 
was but the representative. But the personality of the 
representative is not without influence. Had Perrault 
been a man of genius, the Quarrel of the Ancients and the 
Moderns might have saved France a whole century of 
pseudo-classicism. Had Auguste Comte or Littre been a 
Lucretius, Positivism might be a living force to-day, in- 

"Philosophy" 277 

stead of a museum piece. Rousseau had the essential vir- 
tue of a genius : he abandoned himself to his destiny, like 
Napoleon; he identified his message with his person; he 
attempted, haltingly enough, to five his creed, and Ms 
Confessions were a justification, not of the individual 
Rousseau, but of his faith. So Primitivism was not merely 
a paradox, and not merely a tendency: it became flesh, 
struggled, suffered, and conquered death. We find it ex- 
ceedingly difficult to entertain any great reverence for 
the man Rousseau, for his thought, and even for much of 
his art : yet he can not be eliminated from the world's his- 
tory any more than Napoleon. We find him at the head 
of all the great tendencies in the nineteenth century: re- 
ligious revival, democracy, romanticism, socialism. He is 
as ardently combated to-day, in France as in America, as 
when he was alive : and we do not fight the dead. 

"Philosophy" had to accept Rousseau by the side of 
Voltaire, just as the Christian tradition admitted the Old 
Testament and the New, the Synoptics and St. John, St. 
Paul and St. Peter. The Revolution brought the remains 
of both to the Pantheon, where they He unto this day. 
This syncresis, which may not be a reconciliation, has to 
be accepted as "the verdict of history/ 5 



I. The Antique tendency: Architecture: Soufflot; Painting: 
David; Literature: Chenier; Archeology: Pompeii; Barthelemy 
and Ms Anackarsis. 

II. Causes of the Antique Revival : Anti-medievalism. Primi- 
tivism. Romantic element: picturesqueness of ruins. 

III. Pre-Romanticism : Voltaire and Shakespeare. Oriental- 
ism. Exoticism. Vogue of Macpherson's Ossian. 

IV. Mysticism and Mystification: Free-Masonry. IlluminatL 
St. Martin, "the Unknown Philosopher." Mesmer. St. Ger- 
main. CagHostro. 

"Virtue" becomes fashionable. 

THE Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns liad 
died out without a decisive conclusion. To be sure, 
Boileau, the watchdog of Parnassus, had saved the 
sacred mountain from desecration ; but his was a Pyrrhic 
victory, for no age could be more uncompromisingly "mod- 
ern" than the first half of the eighteenth century. To be 
"enlightened" consisted chiefly in condemning the past as 
a heap of abuses and superstitions, and in hailing the 
dawn of Reason. Voltaire, the most complete representa- 
tive of his time, exclaimed: "Oh! how happy is this cen- 
tury of iron !" Such a trend of thought would lead French 
culture far away from the classical tradition, rooted in 
reverence for the past. It announced a freer art, joy- 
ously confident in the creative power of living men, in the 
growing forces of science and industry. Of such an eman- 
cipated art, partly realistic, partly romantic, we find the 
promises and even the first fruit in Diderot. 

Yet the second half of the eighteenth century was 
marked by a deliberate return to antiquity, by a more 
rigid classicism than that of Boileau. This tendency cul- 
minated under the Empire, in monuments which were al- 


Return to Antiquity, Pre-Romanticism 279 

most slavish reproductions of Roman models. But it had 
its beginning as early as the days of Madame de Pom- 

Architecture, because it entails long and costly collec- 
tive efforts, is less affected by purely individual fancy 
than the other arts ; and thus it affords the clearest sym- 
bol of large and durable tendencies. The delightful 
frivolity of the Rococo style lost favour; a chaster taste 
prevailed. If we compare the ornate and somewhat tor- 
mented elevation first projected for the West front of St. 
Sulpice in Paris with the majestic portal built by Ser- 
vandoni, the change in temper becomes immediately ap- 
parent. In the work of Gabriel, the new seriousness en- 
tails no sacrifice of elegance. The colonnades of the Place 
de la Concorde, with their perfect balance of dignity and 
grace, remain the witness of a unique moment in French 
culture. The same fortunate blend is found in the in- 
terior of St. Genevieve (the Pantheon) by Soufflot: but 
already chastity of design is almost verging on frigidity. 
Perfection was reached under Louis XVI, in small palaces 
and princely residences. Nothing could be simpler than 
the Petit Trianon: a cube of masonry with a balustrade 
on top, four Corinthian columns or pilasters separating 
square or rectangular windows. Yet there is no stiffness 
in all these straight lines, no bareness in those plain walls : 
it is the triumph of faultless proportion and delicacy in 
treatment. The Salm residence in Paris, now the Palace 
of the Legion of Honour, is more definitely antique, but 
likewise without severity. The forecourt is surrounded 
by an Ionic colonnade, which is open on the street side ; a 
small triumphal arch serves as gateway. The exquisite 
charm of this little edifice has survived the hardest trials. 
In Paris, crushed between tall apartment houses and an 
overwhelming railway terminal, it smiles on, refined, un- 
dismayed, as the nobility knew how to smile on the steps 
of the guillotine; in San Francisco, its replica in cold- 
hued artificial stone, simplified, stiffened, windowless, lost 
in a magnificent site for which it never was intended, still 
manages to convey the same message of gracious restraint. 

280 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Unfortunately, the "antiquising" tendency did not stop 
there. Already the outside of the Pantheon had revealed 
the dangers of the new spirit: formality, artificiality. 
Simplicity In this case is not due to lack of affectation : 
it is a bid for theatrical impressiveness. The walls, rising 
unbroken and unadorned to the cornice, are meant to be 
tremendous in their cyclopean nakedness. But we know 
they are an architectural deception, and we know that 
windows are concealed behind their screen. At any rate, 
the Pantheon, for all its sophisticated ruggedness, has not 
utterly lost the amenity of the age. The austerity of the 
neo-antique soon became less amiable. The forty-three 
guard houses erected by Le Doux at the gates of Paris 
were frequently redeemed by a sort of weird picturesque- 
ness ; but the Odeon, for instance, is decidedly morose. It 
heralds the self-conscious stoicism which was to impov- 
erish social life during the Revolution. It was a mercy 
that the First Republic had no time and no money to 
spare for permanent architecture: the temporary deco- 
rations for public festivals reveal the pomposity, the 
straining for the heroic and the grandiose, that marred 
the eloquence of the period. With Napoleon, the antique 
reigned supreme; everything was Roman, with touches 
of the Egyptian. 1 The logical consequence of the whole 
movement was reached when French architects sought in 
Rome not an inspiration merely, but models to be actually 
reproduced. The very pretty triumphal arch in the Place 
du Carrousel, by Percier and Fontaine, is a copy of the 
arch of Septimus Severus. The Vendome Column repeats 
that of Trajan. The Madeleine is a huge pastiche of a 
Greco-Roman temple: an incongruity as a Christian 
church on the ultra-modern Boulevard, but undeniably an 
impressive one. 

The tendency was no lees pronounced in painting. 
About 1750, Boucher was still the leading master. He re- 
tained his supremacy until his death, and his gracefully 
erotic tradition was kept up by Fragonard. But these 

1 Egyptian influences, particularly felt after Bonaparte's expedition 
into that country, were already noticeable under Louis XVI. 

Return to Antiquity, Pre-Romantlclsm 281 

dimpled and rosy nymphs, smiling so coquettishly In their 
mythological negliges, were no longer in tune with the 
growing earnestness. Already in 1745, Count de Caylus, 
an antiquarian as well as a lover of art, was preaching a 
sterner doctrine. Strangely enough, the influence of 
Madame de Pompadour herself, and that of her brother 
Marigny, were working in the same direction. Hubert 
Robert was brilliantly successful in his spirited paintings 
of classical ruins; and the splendid prints of Piranesi 
catered to the same taste and have retained the same 

Ultra-classicism found its perfect exponent in David. 
It is important to bear in mind that this truly great 
painter had found his way before the Revolution, and 
that he, the future Jacobin, had enjoyed the patronage 
of royalty. Belisarius, Andromache, the Horatii, Brutus 
and his Sons, all these resolutely classical scenes were pro- 
duced before the storm. He was in anticipation a 
Robespierre of the brush; and when the crisis came, he 
embraced Jacobinism as the political expression of his 
artistic temperament. Under the Convention, he became 
the dictator of Republican art, and the organizer of civic 
festivals. He admired Marat, directed his impressive 
funeral, and painted a tragic portrait of "the Friend of 
the People," stabbed in his bath-tub. It was he who de- 
signed the sacred Ark of the Covenant in which the still- 
born constitution of the new democracy was deposited. 
Like many other Jacobins, he rallied to Bonaparte, and 
painted for him vast official canvases, such as the Coro- 
nation and the Presentation of the Eagles. There were in 
David qualities of realism, which were especially mani- 
fested in his portraits ; and a vein of romanticism, which 
revealed itself, almost reluctantly, in the splendour of his 
historical pieces. But, in theory, and, with excessive con- 
sistency, in his practice as well, he was committed to the 
narrowest neo-classical orthodoxy. 1 

1 The last great classical sculptors, Pigalle, Falconet, Houdon, Pajou, 
are free from antiquising neo-classicism. The tendency is represented 
in other countries, by Flaxman, Thorwaldsen, Canova, Bosio* who had 
many admirers and disciples in France. 

282 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

In literature, many were carried by the same stream. 
Most of them are now mere names except for the profes- 
sional scholar. Who cares at present that a professor by 
the name of Thomas was considered, until his death in 
1785, as a French Cicero? Yet it was Thomas who struck 
the keynote for the eloquence of the Revolutionary assem- 
blies ; and there is much "Thomas 55 in the addresses and 
proclamations of Napoleon himself. Who cares that 
Ecouchard Lebrun (1729-1807) dubbed himself the mod- 
ern Pindar, and was accepted as such by his contempora- 
ries? Lebrun, like David, was a Republican in his artis- 
tic principles even under the old monarchy. With a Cicero 
and a Pindar, France also had a Vergil in Abbe Delille 
(1738-1813), the translator of the Georgics and the 
JEneid, the faultless versifier who could describe any- 
thing from a Miltonic scene to a game of backgammon 
without ever using an unclassical term. Under the Em- 
pire, this brood of pseudo-classicists flourished exceed- 
ingly ; and no school perhaps has ever equalled the frigid 
inanity of theirs. Baour-Lormian, Luce de Lancival, have 
remained by-words ; and malignant traces of pseudo-clas- 
sical influences are found in Chateaubriand, Lamartine 
and Vigny. 

Yet even in this field pseudo-classicism was not wholly 
barren. Architecture had Soufflot, who is not negligible ; 
painting had David, who is genuinely great ; poetry had 
Andre Chenier. But Chenier, although the return to an- 
tiquity is best exemplified in him, remains an exception. 
The Chenier whom his contemporaries knew was the au- 
thor of stiff political odes, just as artificial as those of 
Ecouchard Lebrun, and considerably more ponderous. 
There was also in him an erotic poet of no great depth, 
and a would-be philosophical poet who, if he had lived, 
would in all likelihood have been a Condorcet in rhyme 
rather than a French Lucretius. Only in 1819 were his 
Idyls, Elegies and classical fragments published. To 
originality these graceful pieces have no claim; they are 
antique reminiscences strung together by an artist not yet 
in full possession of his technique. But Chenier, for one 
thing, knew Greek infinitely better than Lebrun-Pindar. 

Return to Antiquity, Pre-Romantlclsni 283 

Alexandrian culture was his spiritual home; and his 
Grecian mosaics are no antiquarian pastimes, but genuine 
modes of self-expression. 

There was still a third Chenier, as far above the Hel- 
lenistic minor poet as the latter was above Lebrun. Just 
as the death of Marat had, for the moment, torn David 
away from his pseudo-classical prejudices, and inspired 
him to paint a masterpiece of passionate realism, so the 
spectacle of the Terror roused in Chenier an indignation 
that flamed forth in his Iambics. With Agrippa d'Au- 
bigne, Auguste Barbier and Victor Hugo, he could re- 
deem the meanest of all passions, political animosity, 
through his lyrical fervor. 

Archeology had its place in this "antiquising" move- 
ment ; but that austere science, reserved for the few, never 
leads fashion. When it becomes popular, we may be sure 
that the key of its success is to be found elsewhere. Some 
of the men who were most influential in fostering the re- 
turn to antiquity, like Rousseau himself, were totally 
unaffected by archeology: Rousseau loved antiquity, not 
out of knowledge, but out of ignorance. But scientific re- 
search, vitalized by public interest, added precision and 
depth to a movement which might have remained purely 
sentimental. The ancient world, so long merely a ra- 
tional ideal, if not a pure convention, became a concrete 

Nothing contributed more to this change than the dis- 
coveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii. The existence of 
buried ruins at the foot of Vesuvius had been suspected 
for a long time. But systematic exploration began only 
in 1738,, and its results did not reach the educated gen- 
eral public in France until ten years later. Count de 
Caylus acted as liaison between archeologists and artists ; 
the Academy of Inscriptions served as a meeting-ground 
for scholars and literary men. Thanks to these agencies, 
to many missions, and to a wealth of handsome publica- 
tions, the material side of Greco-Roman life became fa- 
miliar to modern Paris, as it had never been even in the 
days of the Renaissance. 

The conjunction of scientific research and popular in- 

284 The Life and Death of an Idea! 

terest Is best exemplified in the works of Abbe J. J. 
Barthelemy. This excellent archeologist, whose special 
field was numismatics, was also in touch with the aristo- 
cratic society of his time, a protege of ChoiseuPs, a per- 
sonal friend of Madame du Deffand's. He spent thirty 
years in the preparation of a book which was to make the 
results of science available for the general reader. An 
archeological treatise with a very thin veil of fiction, and 
freely interspersed with unadorned disquisitions on tech- 
nical points, would hardly be expected to become a best- 
seller: but the Voyage of Young Anacharsis in Greece, 
About the Middle of the Fourth Century B. C. (1787) 
was immensely successful. In spite of his aristocratic con- 
nections, Barthelemy did not suffer at the hands of the 
Revolutionists, who left him in charge of the Department 
of Medals in the National Library. 

As a sign of the same general interest in antiquity, we 
may note that even industrial arts and the decoration of 
daily life under Louis XVI showed very clearly the in- 
fluence of Pompeii and its Hellenistic culture. After 1789, 
the tendency was more noticeable still. Greco-Roman 
names grew in favour. Baron von Cloots, "the Spokesman 
of Mankind," chose to call himself Anacharsis. Babeuf, 
the communist, became Caius Gracchus. If virtue affected 
an antique garb, so did frivolity. The ladies fair and frail 
of the Thermidorian reaction and of the Directoire, such 
as Teresia Cabarrus (Madame Tallien), adopted the 
graceful fashions of classical antiquity a mode which 
Napoleon's sister, Pauline Borghese, was to carry to an 
extreme in her statue by Canova. 


What accounts for this last flaring up of the classical 
spirit in its strictest form, almost on the eve of its extinc- 
tion? First of all, the weakening of obstacles that had 
long opposed it. The Renaissance had introduced the cult 

Return to Antiquity, Pre-Romanticism 285 

of antiquity: but that cult was hampered by the strong 
survival of feudalism and Christianity. For that reason, 
sixteenth-century culture is not purely antique, but a de- 
lightful hybrid. This compromise had been consolidated 
in the seventeenth century: Boileau, for instance, was a 
pure Pagan in literature, but an orthodox Christian in 
his private life. As a consequence of the Enlightenment, 
feudalism and Christianity had lost much of their pres- 
tige, and the worship of antiquity was left without a 
check. Antiquity had been called to the rescue against 
medieval ignorance and superstition, "Gothic night'*; its 
usefulness would not end until medievalism had been 
finally extirpated; and as France was nearing the goal, 
the purpose of the movement was becoming clearer. But 
the worship of antiquity depended to a large extent upon 
that opposition to medievalism. Allies seldom remain good 
friends after their common enemy is out of the way. No 
sooner had classical Reason triumphed but the cry was 
heard : "Who will deliver us from the Greeks and the Ro- 
mans ?" and Romanticism was ready to follow. 

The return to antiquity was accelerated by the "Primi- 
tivism" of which Rousseau became the apostle. For a time, 
antiquity, simplicity, Nature, were held to be one and the 
same. The extreme sophistication of decadent Hellenism, 
the corruption of imperial Rome, were ignored. It was the 
heroic and frugal times of the Republic that were extolled. 
Rousseau's apostrophe to Fabricius, in his first Discourse, 
was a call to a simpler life, and above all a denuncia- 
tion of the exquisite luxury in which Voltaire, Madame 
de Pompadour and their friends revelled so ingenuously. 
Rousseau's antiquity, inspired by Plutarch, was very dif- 
ferent from Chenier's and Madame Tallien's : it was the 
stoic, sententious and morose antiquity of David and 
Robespierre. Fabricius, in his Discourse, played the same 
part as The Peasant from the Banks of the Danube in 
Lafontaine's eloquent fable. The "virtuous" Roman is 
akin to the "virtuous barbarian" of Tacitus, and to the 
"virtuous savage" so dear to the whole eighteenth cen- 
tury. The uncritical Primitivism which was to cause the 

286 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

vogue of a spurious Ossian also caused the revival of 

Another element has to be distinguished in this return 
to antiquity, an element which is romantic rather than 
classical. Antiquity was now looked upon, not exclusively 
as the perfect pattern of a rational culture, nor solely as 
a model of heroic virtue, but as a source of picturesque- 
ness. The same thirst for colour and movement which was 
seeking satisfaction in Orientalism, in exoticism, and in 
the Middle Ages, led artists back to antiquity, and par- 
ticularly to the ruins of antiquity. Whilst archeologists 
were dreaming of restorations, the poets enjoyed "ruins 
for ruins' sake. 95 A fondness for ruins, since the days of 
Joachim du Bellay, had never disappeared from the 
French mind ; but in the second half of the eighteenth cen- 
tury it reached the delightful absurdity of a craze. Arti- 
ficial ruins were built ; and we remember the time when the 
ruined colonnade in the Pare Monceau, a charming relic 
of that period, was falling into genuine ruins and had 
carefully to be restored to its original ruinous condition. 
Ruined temples preceded ruined monasteries, in the favour 
of the French public. Hubert Robert was so successful, 
not because he was an archeologist, but because he was a 
pre-Romanticist as well. The great series of Roman An- 
tiquities by Piranesi reveal the same spirit. The scale of 
the buildings is made gigantic ; the architecture is at the 
same time more massive and more crumbling than in real- 
ity; as much attention is given to bushes clinging to a 
wall as to the carving of frieze or capital; the contrast 
between the magnificence of these remains and the modern 
life of beggars and shepherds is almost invariably empha- 
sized with conscious eloquence. It is significant that the 
same Piranesi, whose Albums of Classical Ornaments had 
such an influence on domestic decoration, also etched his 
Dungeons (Carceri), a gorgeous collection of architec- 
tural nightmares, in which the very spirit of Mrs. Rad- 
cliffe and of "Monk" Lewis flutters amid cyclopean vaults. 
The vigorous and original guard houses of Le Doux, so 
unfortunately sacrificed in the nineteenth century, show 

Return to Antiquity, Pie-Romanticism 87 

the direct influence of Paestum, but even more those of 
Hubert Robert and PiranesI The writer happened to be 
familiar, in his childhood, with the most elaborate of them s 
the Rotunda of La ViHette; and that mysterious build- 
ing, most prosaically used for offices and stores* always 
evoked in his young imagination the romantic vision of a 
vanished world, grand and terrible. 


Thus ultra-classicism of the most rigid Mnd was not 
free from the spirit that was to supersede it : the new was 
in germ within the old. With Pre-Romanticism we do not 
propose to deal at length: it concerns the origins of the 
nineteenth century rather than the evolution of the clas- 
sical age. But it is important to note how gradual the 
change was, and how early it began. We have seen that 
the essence of Romanticism was found in Rousseau; but 
in his works, the form remains classical on the whole, with 
an eloquence not radically different from Thomas's and a 
reverence for antiquity akin to David's. In Voltaire, on 
the contrary, whilst his thought never transgressed the 
clear and narrow circle defined by the Enlightenment, the 
material elements of Romanticism are not lacking. In 
dramatic theory, Voltaire was more conservative than in 
politics or in religion. Yet it was he who actually revealed 
Shakespeare to the French, although he lived to repent 
the diffusion of a taste that he had inaugurated. He 
adapted Shakespearian subjects to his own needs Othello 
in Zaire, Hamlet in Semiramis. He had early in his ca- 
reer delivered himself from the tyrannical exclusiveness 
of Greco-Roman subjects. Du Belloy's Siege of Calais 
in 1765, M.-J. Chenier's Charles IX in 1789, plays on 
national themes, were hailed with enthusiasm : but it was 
Voltaire who had opened the way, with his Zaire in 173$ 
and, in 1734, with his Adelaide du Guesclin. In Tancrede 
or The Knights, in 1760, we find already a model of that 
pale and conventional Romanticism which was later to be 
known as "Troubadour Style." On the stage as in his 

288 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Essay on Manners, he is not satisfied with the familiar 
Mediterranean tradition: he wants to go farther afield, 
to embrace the whole world, America in Alzire, the Far 
East in The Chinese Orphan. He went so far as to re- 
quire his actors to wear Chinese and Manchu costumes: 
the resulting compromise was one of the quaintest mas- 
querades that ever enlivened the stage. 

The taste for the Orient was not new, even in the early 
part of the eighteenth century : already under Louis XIV, 
Galland had given of the Arabian Nights a version which 
was long to remain unchallenged. There had been a brief 
Turkish craze, of which the end of Moliere's Bourgeois 
Gentilhomme (1670) and Racine's Bajazet (1672) are 
the most notable traces. Throughout the eighteenth cen- 
tury, the Oriental tale had been a favourite. Montesquieu 
spiced with Oriental ingredients his satirical Persian Let- 
ters. Voltaire himself, so cool and reasonable, gave his 
imagination freer rein in his Arabian and Babylonian 
stories. Chinese art enjoyed a great vogue: Choiseul had 
his Pagoda at Chanteloup; Eastern lacquer was prized 
and imitated ; and some of the most entrancing designs of 
the period profess to set forth Chinese patterns and Chi- 
nese scenes. Just as archeology was giving a new pre- 
cision to the old-established taste for classical antiquity, 
geographical discovery gradually deepened the meaning 
of exoticism. The public who followed so eagerly the voy- 
ages of La Condamine, Bougainville, La Perouse and 
d'Entrecasteaux would soon accept less uncritically the 
fanciful picturesqueness of exotic romance. The taste 
came first, and created a demand for authentic informa- 
tion. Finally, with Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and with 
Chateaubriand, actual travelers who were also artists, we 
find a convincing blend of poetry and observation, with 
which Romanticism declared itself satisfied. 

Nothing could be more symptomatic of a new spirit 
than the extraordinary vogue of Macpherson's Ossian, 
which Letourneur translated in 1776- Many causes con- 
tributed to its immediate and prolonged success. First of 
all, the eighteenth century, as we have seen, wa's marked 

Return to Antiquity, Pre-Romanticism 28 

by Anglomania throughout, even in the long years of war- 
fare between the two countries. Everything that came 
from over the channel was sure of a sympathetic reception, 
and Macpherson profited by the same favour that was 
shown to Thomson and Young, to Richardson and Sterne. 
But it was not Anglomania alone that made Ossianism so 
catching. That charming French society was eager to es- 
cape from itself, from the gilded and scented bondage of 
its own cleverness, luxury and sophistication. Never was 
there a clearer case of "toiijours perdrtx" Paris sighed 
for simplicity : the Quaker-like simplicity of Franklin, the 
insipid simplicity of Gessner's Idyls, the theatrical sim- 
plicity of David's antique paintings, the comic-opera sim- 
plicity of Marie-Antoinette*s dairy at Trianon. Espe- 
cially did France yearn for the simplicity of remote ages 
under unfamiliar skies. What could be more different 
from Paris under Louis XVI than nebulous Gaelic clans 
in the third century? Ossian was declared more primitive 
than Homer. The age of Voltaire, wearied with its own 
keenness of sight, craved strangely for the vague. The 
cult of pleasure had created a longing for melancholy, as 
a last untapped spring of interest. So we find in the im- 
agination of the time the characters of Macpherson float- 
ing dim and gigantic in a somber mist, by the side of an 
antiquity more sharply defined than ever. The hoax be- 
came a world-classic. "Ossian 9 * ranks with Shakespeare, 
Byron and Walter Scott among the masters of French 
Romanticism ; and it seems almost incredible that the arch- 
realist, the supreme classicist, the Latin par excellence, 
Napoleon, should have been a fervent reader of Ossian. A 
syncretic age if ever there was one, in which all ideals co- 
existed, frequently in the same minds, without actually 
blending. The one thing this groping in all directions 
proved beyond doubt was that the exclusive faith in the 
classical doctrine, after ruling for nearly three centuries, 
was approaching exhaustion. 

290 The Life and Death of an Ideal 


So far no great leader had dared openly to blaspheme 
Reason. Rousseau might wage war on the Enlighten- 
ment, proclaim himself the apostle of intuition and senti- 
ment, inaugurate a new mysticism : still he professed to be 
a rationalist. It was his logic, combined with his passion, 
that carried away his contemporaries. Yet Reason, al- 
though still enthroned, was turning into a constitutional 
sovereign, who reigns but does not govern. It is curious 
to watch, at the very moment when the hoariest supersti- 
tions were tumbling down, an extraordinary outcropping 
of new-fangled superstitions, a wild "will to believe" in 
that era of professed unbelief, a mysticism which accepted, 
almost consciously, the assistance of mystification. The 
great Carnival of Faith, so characteristic of the Roman- 
tic period, had its beginning in the Age of Reason. 

The resistance of the ancient order to Inevitable change 
had compelled the Philosophers to over-emphasize destruc- 
tive criticism. They had ruined faith In existing institu- 
tions: more accurately, they had, not created, but ex- 
pressed, the scepticism which was growing In almost every 
mind. But they had not been able to build up a new 
world, for the debris of the old were still cumbering the 
ground. Hence a void which was filled in the most curi- 
ously haphazard fashion. This thirst for illusion was par- 
ticularly noticeable among men who, whilst they felt the 
hopeless absurdity of the regime, were still attached to it 
by ties of tradition or self-interest. They feared and 
hoped, and did not know exactly what to hope or fear. 
Many aristocrats, in a spirit of irresponsible opposition, 
protested against the ban which had been placed on Beau- 
marchais's Marriage of Figaro; when that daring satire 
was at last put on the stage, they recklessly applauded its 
most destructive epigrams ; yet many of them had no in- 
tention of giving up the privileged position which Figaro 
had made so plainly ridiculous. Men in that ambiguous 
frame of mind, credulous and sceptical, dissatisfied with 

Return to Antiquity, Pre-Roraanticism 291 

the present, yet afraid of actual change, enjoying 
"abuses" whilst toying with free thought and philan- 
thropy, were the easiest prey for charlatans. It was not 
the common people who took up the strangest creeds or 
rites, and followed the most outrageous impostors : it was 
men who belonged to the aristocracy of wealth and wit. 
A cynic would say that they had lost their heads long be- 
fore the reign of Terror. The years Immediately preced- 
ing the Revolution were a golden age for adventurers, 
especially if they could give to their nostrums a theosoph- 
Ical flavour. Schwarmer und SchwindLer 9 as Sierke ap- 
propriately describes that ilk: enthusiasts and rogues. 
Paris in 1774, when Louis XVI ascended the throne, was 
not very different in this respect from Los Angeles a hun- 
dred and fifty years later. 

It may seem disrespectful to an ancient and respectable 
institution such as Freemasonry to mention its name In 
such a connection. Yet it is manifest that,- in eighteenth 
century France, its spirit was not entirely guided by the 
most critical common sense. Its spread was another sign 
of Anglomania. The reorganization of the craft in Lon- 
don in 1717 was the signal of a great revival of activity: 
indeed it might be called a new birth. A French lodge 
was instituted in 1732. Masonry was then one of the 
channels of the Enlightenment, and its deistic creed long 
bore the imprint of that period. But it acquired also at 
that time the anticlerical bias which in France has sur- 
vived its pristine deism : it has remained a counter militia 
mobilized against the Jesuits. Lafayette was a member, 
like George Washington, with whom he liked his name to 
be linked. The Duke of Orleans, Philip, not yet Egalite, 
was a master of the craft. But liberal principles in poli- 
tics and philosophy were not the sole attraction : the Mys- 
teries of Freemasonry proved a great temptation for the 
mystagogues, and shady characters like Cagliostro at- 
tempted to give a Masonic tinge to their wildest schemes. 

By the side of Freemasonry, and at times attempting 
to merge with it we find the different groups and move- 
ments T 'aguely described as Illuminati. Some might be 

The Life and Death of an Ideal 

the direct heirs of the Spanish Alumbrados, with whom 
Saint Ignatius had been accused of consorting. Others 
claimed affiliation with the German Rosicrucians ; others 
still went back to the old Knights Templars. Some, like 
Saint-Martin, disciple of Martinez de Pasquales, were 
mystics and cabalists as well as theurgists, and came un- 
der the influence of Boehme and Swedenborg. The very 
title of one of Saint-Martin's books. The Man of Desire, 
is significant of the time. But no less significant is the 
fact that the "Unknown Philosopher," as he chose to sign 
himself, was very popular in Parisian society. 

The clearest connection between "Enlightenment, 55 
"Illumination" and Freemasonry is found in the Order of 
Perfectibilists, organized in 1776 by a German Profes- 
sor, Weishaupt. Weishaupt, let it be noted, was an ex- 
Jesuit: the secret character of that great militant con- 
gregation has constantly impressed the world and en- 
couraged imitation. The Perfectibilists, also known as 
Illuminati 9 copied to some extent the hierarchy of the Ma- 
sons and established relations with their lodges. It is not 
surprising that Herder should have become interested: 
but Goethe himself, Olympian though he was destined to 
be, was attracted by that turbid mixture. The Perfec- 
tibilists professed advanced opinions. They were repre- 
sented in France, but as a mere eddy in the great turmoil 
that preceded the Revolution. 

Mesmer was a portent. In him, science, mysticism and 
charlatanism blended most convincingly. He came to 
Paris in 1778, and created a furore with his "animal mag- 
netism" and his "baquet" or vat, a modernized version 
of the witches 5 caldron. The government offered him a 
large sum for his "secret" : possibly as a last resort against 
impending bankruptcy, for Mesmer was an alchemist as 
well as a forerunner of our medical fakers. A committee 
of which Franklin was a member examined his scientific 
claims : his "mesmerism," however, baffled their investiga- 
tion. He founded a Society of Harmony, which was 
joined by such men as d'Espremesnil, a power at the time 
in the uncontrollable Parliament of Paris ; by Lafayette, 

Return to Antiquity, Pre-Romanticism 9S 

whose excellent Intentions led Mm to nibble at every bait* 
and even by a chemist of note, Berthollet. 

From 1748 to 1760, Count de Saint-Germain was a 
figure at the Court of Louis XV. He was a cosmopolitan 
adventurer of mysterious origin possibly the illegiti- 
mate son of a Spanish queen. Speaking all European lan- 
guages, endowed with an imperturbable memory, a mu- 
sician, a chemist, he was, according to Grimm's report, 
the most brilliant man he had ever come across : and it was 
Grimm's business to meet all the celebrities of his time. 
Saint-Germain affords an excellent test of the gullibility 
of the age : he did not actually profess that he was in pos- 
session of the philosopher's stone and of the elixir of life, 
but he gave out hints which were taken up with eagerness. 
He served in many ways as a pattern for Cagliostro, whom 
he is said to have initiated into Freemasonry. 

With Cagliostro we have the perfect example of the 
impostor. The fecund imagination of Alexandre Dumas, 
in Joseph Balsamo, can hardly keep pace with the ex- 
travagant adventures of his hero. Cagliostro, like Saint- 
Germain, hinted that he had been living for untold cen- 
turies; he too was an alchemist, and in addition a con- 
cocter of love philters; like Mesmer, he was a miracle- 
worker. He also had his pseudo-mystic side; he was in 
touch with the Rosicrucians ; and he started a Freema- 
sonry of his own, an Egyptian brand of which he pro- 
claimed himself the Grand Copht. Such was his mag- 
nificent self-assurance that legitimate lodges sought affil- 
iation with his Order ; but, as they refused to destroy their 
archives and make a totally new start, their application 
was denied. He came to Paris in 1785, and played a part 
in the tangled and unsavoury affair of the Diamond Neck- 
lace. On that particular score he managed to bluff his 
judges out of countenance; but he was condemned on 
other counts, had to leave France, and died obscurely in 
1795 in a Papal prison. 

Such was French society on the eve of the great catas- 
trophe; a welter of ideals and superstitions, the noblest 

294 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

by the side of the most foolish. We have seen the growth 
of an "antiquising" spirit which was to "become ever stiff er 
and more pedantic until it yawned itself to death under 
the Empire. We have seen the favour enjoyed, in the 
highest circles, by the rankest charlatans. The clear light 
of eighteenth century thought seemed to be losing both in 
power and in purity. It is only when the lamps are 
dimmedj and to the strain of soft music, that a Mesmer 
or a Cagliostro can operate. The same elements of gran- 
diloquent fraud are ever with us : but the danger, at the 
end of the Ancient Regime, was that such elements were 
able to impose upon the social elite. A society that was 
no longer able to believe in itself was ready to believe in 

However, if the symptoms of danger have to be noted, 
they should not be unduly magnified. Classical France 
was herself still. The wit and commonsense of the Vol- 
tairian era had survived, in Voltaire himself and in his 
admirers. Science was loved and served, as well as "Lib- 
erty" and "Philosophy/ 5 Reforms were intelligently dis- 
cussed, and, with Turgot, courageously attempted. The 
artificiality of Rococo culture had been tempered by a 
new taste for simplicity. "Virtue," not immorality, was 
now "The Prejudice in Fashion." 1 It would be naive to 
praise the reign of Louis XVI as an Arcadia of courtly 
philosophy: the sardonic grin of Talleyrand should suffice 
as a warning. But it was, on the whole, a cheerful, kindly, 
sensible age. So it seemed to the contemporaries ; and so 
it seems all the more to us, with the tragic contrast pro- 
vided by the Revolution. 

1 As a sign of this vogue of virtue, we may note the popularity of a third-rater, 
Berquin (1747-1791), "The Friend of Children/' whose name has become 
synonymous with vacuous innocence. (Berquinades.) The Montyon Prizes 
for Virtue, still awarded by the French Academy, were created at that time 
(1782). An admirable example of "virtue" in the sense of active philanthropy 
is found in La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt (1747-1827). 


"Ubi nee mala nee remedia pail 

I. The Revolution "inevitable": why? Revolutionary Tem- 
per of the French people a fallacy. 

II. The French goaded by despair? France on the up-grade 
under Louis XVI: King 5 foreign affairs, home government, eco- 
nomic progress. 

III. The "Philosophers": responsibility of Montesquieu, Vol- 
taire, Rousseau. 

IV. Blind conservatism: among peasants and craftsmen. Role 
of the Parliaments. 

V. Selfish privilege. Clergy. Nobility. Nobiliary reaction 
under Louis XVI. The King's brothers. The Queen. The 
King's hesitancy. 

THERE is about the French Revolution an impressive 
air of cataclysmic inevitability. No event was more 
clearly prophesied. Even more definite than the 
utterances of Voltaire and d'Argenson were the cynical 
epigrams ascribed to Louis XV himself: "After us, the 
deluge!" "Pshaw! The old machine will last at least as 
long as we P* Except in that nihilistic old sinner, the con- 
sciousness of an impending crisis did not paralyze effort: 
but as every move of a man caught in quicksand only ac- 
celerates his doom, it seemed as though reform and reac- 
tion alike hastened the fateful hour. This dramatic 
simile, however, is delusive, after the wont of similes, and 
a little worse than the average. For there was no sense 
of horror amid the charming and enlightened society so 
soon to be engulfed. Existence had never been so deli- 
cately enjoyable, and th*> signs of change only added to 
its zest. "Whoever has not lived before the Revolution, 
said Talleyrand, has not truly tasted the sweetness of 


296 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

life." Part of that sweetness was due to the very fact 
that the Revolution was in the air. 

"Inevitability" is the last refuge of the lazy-minded. 
If we ask: "Why was the Revolution inevitable?" agree- 
ment ceases by magic. We are frequently told that the 
Revolution broke out in France because the French are a 
revolutionary people. It may be a compliment or the re- 
verse to be called "Revolutionary" : the Daughters of the 
American Revolution would shudder at the thought that 
they might become the Mothers of a new American Revo- 
lution. A "revolutionary people" may be one that is not 
amenable to discipline; or it may be one that will not 
brook tyranny. What Tennyson spurns as "the red fool- 
fury of the Seine" or "the blind hysterics of the Celt" is 
revered by Michelet as a Messianic sign. But, which- 
ever way you take it, to explain the French Revolution 
through the revolutionary character of the French is to 
tell us that "opium causes sleep because of its dormitive 
virtue." Few among the pseudo-sciences are quite so dan- 
gerous as the psychology of nations. In their long his- 
tory, the French had shown exactly the reverse of a revo- 
lutionary temperament. For eight hundred years, they 
had faithfully served the same dynasty. They had been 
obstinately loyal under the most tragic circumstances: 
when the King was a child, and when he was a prisoner ; 
when he was a wastrel and when he was a madman. They 
had remained attached to institutions of slow and uncon- 
scious growth. It was England, on the contrary, that had 
given glaring examples of religious instability in the six- 
teenth century, and of political fickleness in the seven- 
teenth; it was English-speaking countries, on both sides 
of the Atlantic, that had first revealed a radical turn of 
mind, and rudely shattered the majesty that doth hedge 
round a king. It is true that, from 1789 to 1871, France 
has gone through at least half a dozen major convulsions 
hardly a record of political stability. But these were 
the recurring fits of the same fever, symptoms of a pro- 
longed disease, rather than permanent characteristics. In 
the last quarter of a century, we have begun to recog- 

Causes of the Revolution 297 

nize, if not to appreciate, the sturdy conservativeness of 
the French. France has long since joined us in the ranks 
of retired revolutionists, of all people the most stubbornly 
averse to sudden change. Halo or stigma, France's revo- 
lutionary reputation is a thing of the past, 

An explanation which rises naturally to our minds is 
that the Revolution broke out because conditions were bad 
beyond human endurance. Even the meekest peasant will 
turn. This is a very popular theory, for it is obvious, 
dramatic, picturesque. It was long official in the schools 
of the Republic. It remains embodied in the significance 
attached to the national holiday: on the 14th of July, the 
people rose in their wrath and destroyed that symbol of 
intolerable oppression, the Bastille. 1 Nowhere do we find 
it more vigorously expressed than in the Tale of Two 
Cities, the only primer of the French Revolution with 
which the English-speaking world is thoroughly familiar. 
The romancer need not have strained his imagination for 
instances of brutal callousness above and incredible degra- 
dation below. There are facts aplenty that the apolo- 
gists of the ancient regime cannot brush aside. La 
Bruyere, a hundred years before the Revolution, had 
etched his tragic vision of the starved peasantry under 
Louis XIV. In spite of what we might call the comic- 
opera tradition of French history, there were famines in 
the fair and fruitful land ; men were actually maimed for 
life because they attempted to evade the preposterous salt- 
tax ; torture was used to wring out the confession of im- 
aginary crimes; serfhood still lingered; feudal rights, 
onerous or humiliating, could still be enforced; a man 
could be arrested without warrant, kept in jail without 
judgment, and there allowed to waste away, if the Powers 
did not choose to remember. When such tales are told, 
one marvels at the infinite longanimity of the French 

1 It is claimed that, strictly speaking, the 14th of July commemorates 
the "Federation" of 1790, not the insurrection of 1789: civil concord, 
not civil war. But the popular interpretation is at least a short cut to 
the essential truth. 

298 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Yet we feel that this obvious and all-sufficient explana- 
tion does not fully explain. Why was it, for one thing, 
that the Revolution broke out in France, whilst conditions 
were fully as bad, and in most cases considerably worse, in 
the other countries of the continent? Why was it that the 
poorest peasantry in the West took up arms in defence of 
the ancient regime, whilst the Revolution found its lead- 
ers and many of its most enthusiastic supporters among 
the educated and comfortable middle class? 

There is no such things as "the energy of despair": 
despair is depressing. A pessimistic nation will sullenly 
accept its incurable ills: it will even cling to them, for 
fear any change might be for the worse. Sudden and 
sharp suffering may lash a country into fury, as was the 
case with the Paris Commune in 1871 : but prolonged op- 
pression degrades men into numb acquiescence. A riot 
may be an explosion of mad despair: a revolution is an 
act of faith, and a proof of intense vitality. Revolutions 
break out when nations are on the up-grade, not when 
they are going down. 


There is little doubt but France, under Louis XVI, 
was on the up-grade. Conditions were bad enough, worse, 
we have every reason to believe, than they are to-day; 
and even to-day, we could, with unimpeachable documents, 
draw a very somber picture of our own times! Every 
scene that Dickens related might be as true as it is lurid, 
yet the implication would be false. The essential fact was 
that, in practically all domains, things were improving, 
and improving fast. The French themselves were clearly 
conscious that the worst was over. Instead of a profligate, 
absentee King, watching with Mephistophelian irony the 
dissolution of his own realm, France had a young sover- 
eign, timid no doubt and slow-witted, but decent, kindly, 
conscientious, and by no means stupid. During the Seven 
Years 9 War, the French jeered bitterly at the disgraceful 
futility of their government, which cost them two empires : 

Causes of the Revolution 299 

but twenty years later, their shame had been wiped away. 
Corsica had been acquired, chiefly as a sign that France 
had not abdicated. The American War was popular 
among all classes; the diplomacy of the crisis was ably 
conducted ; the naval and military operations, whilst not 
sensational, were creditable. There was no taint of de- 
cadence, no shadow of national humiliation, about the 
France of Vergennes, Rochambeau, Lafayette, de Grasse 
and Suffren. 

In home affairs also, there was no reason to despair. 
The ancient regime, it is true, was capable of entrusting 
its destinies to a dilapidated embodiment of frivolous wit 
like Maurepas : but public opinion could force upon that 
very Maurepas men like Turgot and Malesherbes, and 
keep them in power for two years. Nor was it a mere ac- 
cident, a desperate remedy: Turgot was the representa- 
tive of the old and sound tradition In the French bureau- 
cracy. He was not an untrained adventurer, a radical 
visionary, although he was something of a doctrinaire: 
he had for twenty years done excellent practical work as 
Administrator {Intendant) of Limoges. A monarchy sup- 
ported by such dynasties of public servants could face the 
future. And a regime bold enough, in 1777, to make 
Necker a minister, was far from hopeless. Necker, a for- 
eigner, a Protestant, a Republican, was called upon to 
straighten the finances of an aristocratic and Catholic 
monarchy. Indeed it would be hard to imagine, In any of 
the leading countries to-day, a parallel to such liberalism. 
Even if a Soviet Commissar should display marvelous 
efficiency, England and America would hardly think of 
offering him a Cabinet position. The France of Louis 
XVI had a trained administrative personnel, and felt free 
to supplement it with experts from abroad: it would not 
therefore perish for lack of able servants. 

Turgot's reforms failed, and public opinion was 
tempted to repeat with Abbe Galiani : "We have reached 
the time when we can bear neither our ills, nor the needed 
remedies." Yet, in spite of all opposition, there was prog- 
ress throughout the reign in the spheres of legislation and 

300 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

government. The judges, as might be expected, had no 
sympathy with "sentimental" and "doctrinaire" changes 
that would destroy the traditions of their order and 
weaken the hands of Themis. But, in spite of their re- 
luctance, the "preliminary" torture administered to the 
accused on the chance that he might prove guilty was 
abolished in 1780 ; and the other forms of that venerable 
Institution were finally suppressed in 1788. The clergy 
were at least as conservative as the judges: but against 
their protest, most of the civil disabilities of the Hugue- 
nots were removed in 1787. Much of the ancient regime 
thus disappeared before the outbreak of the Revolution: 
the last traces of serfhood were abolished in the royal do- 
main in 1779. It was universally felt to be an anomaly 
that, in spite of Voltaire's denunciation, the obdurate 
Abbey of St. Claude should still own serfs in 1789. And 
the other abuses were doomed. 

From the economic point of view, the country was boom- 
ing. It lagged far behind England, and the report of 
Arthur Young is the reverse of rosy: but in every field, 
progress was made. Foreign trade nearly doubled be- 
tween the middle of the century and the Revolution, whilst 
the figures for 1825 were barely superior to those for 
1788. We think of the "ancient regime" exclusively in 
terms of the old guilds and handicrafts, with their eternal 
squabbles, their meticulous regulations, their fossilized 
traditions. But that ancient regime, so reluctant to alter 
its statutes, was in reality changing fast. We are apt to 
forget that, before 1789, there were already in France 
powerful enterprises, operating on a large scale, and with 
the aid of modern machinery. The Creusot Company was 
founded in 1787; in 1789, the collieries at Anzin had 
twelve steam engines; tracks were laid in the vast iron 
works of Montcenis. Annonay was using machinery in 
the manufacture of paper. The inventions of John Kay, 
Arkwright, Cartwright, Crompton, had been brought 
from over the Channel, renovating the cotton industry. 
Nor was France satisfied with the importation of English 
improvements : she contributed actively to the new tech- 

Causes of the Revolution 301 

nical development. It is hard to realize that as early as 
1765, Cugnot was experimenting with an automobile : Ms 
steam truck (1770 model), a crude but convincing affair, 
now reposes in the Technical Museum (Conservatoire des 
Arts et Metiers) in Paris. Jouffroy d'Abbans, translat- 
ing into practical terms the early attempts of Denis 
Papin, had a steamboat paddling on the Saone, and, in 
1783, repeated the experiment on the Seine: Fulton 
frankly recognized the priority of the French nobleman. 
In 1788 also, the brothers Montgolfier, of Annonay, in- 
flated a balloon with hot air ; and Charles, in Paris, sub- 
stituting hydrogen for smoke, opened a new path to 
human skill and daring. 

That early dawn of the industrial era was soon to be 
obscured by the Revolution. For ten years, the French 
were too busy tearing each other to pieces to develop their 
industry: we may use as a symbol the fact that both 
Cugnot and Jouffroy died in poverty and oblivion, their 
inventions neglected. When material order was fully re- 
stored by Bonaparte, the first task was reconstruction 
rather than expansion. And one essential element of 
progress was still lacking: cooperation and friendly ri- 
valry with England. So even during the years of pros- 
perity of the Napoleonic Empire, we miss the vigorous, 
self-confident spirit of pre-Revolutionary France. Peace 
came at last in 1815 : but England had taken such a lead 
in commerce and industry that competition seemed prac- 
tically impossible ; and the returned emigres, the men who 
had "learnt nothing and forgotten nothing" were not the 
men to nerve the nation to bolder efforts. So the auspi- 
cious start of the seventeen-eighties was not followed up : 
its very traces disappeared in the fickle memory of men. 
Most historians place the beginning of the industrial era 
in France in the latter part of Louis-Philippe's reign, 
after 1840; and the joy in progress which characterized 
the time of Louis XVI did not fully return until the Sec- 
ond Empire, in 1852. 1 

1 Louis XVI, like Napoleon III, had enough reliance in French energy 
and enough faith in liberal ideas to sign a treaty for freer trade with 

302 The Life and Death of an Ideal 


So it was neither an inborn trait of the French people, 
nor the sheer excess of their sufferings, that made the 
Revolution "inevitable. 55 Was it the influence of "Phi- 
losophy," of Montesquieu and Voltaire, of Diderot and 
his crew of Encyclopaedists, and, last but most dangerous 
of all, of Jean- Jacques Rousseau? Materialistic histo- 
rians are inclined to deny the potency of abstract ideas, 
for good or evil: but, outside Soviet Russia, no one is 
bound to accept the materialistic orthodoxy in all its 

The theory, at any rate, is not a new-fangled one. It 
was proclaimed by the Revolution itself, when, by decree 
of the National Assembly, the remains of Voltaire and 
Rousseau were solemnly transferred to St. Genevieve's, 
turned into a Pantheon. It has this strong point in its 
favour that it is supported by the enemies of the Revolu- 
tion as well as by its friends. Victor Hugo places on the 
lips of Gavroche, as the heroic gamin was sporting among 
whizzing bullets, a mocking song: "C'est la faute a Vol- 
taire, c'est la faute a Rousseau" The burden of this song 
was repeated in good earnest by the French reactionaries 
throughout the nineteenth century. The most uncom- 
promising statement of this idea is found in Taine's Ori- 
gins of Contemporary France. Taine diagnosed the dis- 
ease from which his country found it so hard to recover 
as "Jacobinism" ; and Jacobinism, in his opinion, was but 
the attempt to translate into facts the doctrines of the 
Enlightenment. If you are a democrat like Michelet or 
Victor Hugo, you will say that the Philosophers guided 
the people out of the house of bondage ; if you are Taine, 
Maurras or Leon Daudet, the story will run : unpractical 
logicians made the people drunk with their heady doc- 
trines, dissolved the historic bonds of society, and let 

England. The agreement of 1786 was working to the greater advantage 
of England than of France: but active economic cooperation between 
the two countries, after nearly a century of commercial warfare, was 
bound to be profitable to both. 

Causes of the Revolution 303 

loose the uncontrollable fury of the rabble. In both cases* 
it is Voltaire's fault, unless it be Rousseau's. 

It is not certain that the French are guided by abstract 
principles more docilely than other people ; but they seem 
to require, more imperiously than others, a theoretical 
justification for what they actually want to do. They are 
rationalizers rather than rationalists. Whilst feudalism 
served their purpose, they reduced that living chaos to 
the neatest formulae of which it was capable (Beauma- 
noir). When absolutism was in the ascendant, they 
turned it into a well-knit system (Bossuet). The facts 
preceded the theory. Similarly, in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, it was the desire for reforms a very practical de- 
sire that created its philosophy, and not an abstract 
philosophy that engendered a desire for reform. La 
Bruyere, Fenelon, Vauban, later Montesquieu and Vol- 
taire, had pointed out the glaring abuses of the regime, 
long before any political radicalism had been evolved. 
The "abstract" character of eighteenth century thought, 
as we tried to show in our survey of "Philosophy, 55 has 
been grossly overemphasized. Montesquieu, unquestion- 
ably, was a trained magistrate, a historian, a careful ob- 
server, not a callow radical. It was he who first taught 
definitely the relativity of human laws, and their depen- 
dence upon "climate," i. e. 9 environment. Voltaire, a very 
practical man in the conduct of his own affairs, was also 
a conscientious investigator. His Century of Louis XIV 
is a monument, not of eloquence or formal logic, but of 
scholarship. He was always ready to expose the absurd- 
ity of a priori systems, like Leibniz's optimism; and he 
was more impatient than Montesquieu himself of fine spun 
theories without sufficient support in fact. Neither Mon- 
tesquieu nor Voltaire desired an upheaval : they belonged, 
on different levels, to that administrative and judicial 
middle class (bourgeoisie et noblesse de robe) which was 
the natural ally and indeed the mainstay of the monarchy. 
This leaves us with Rousseau as the chief, and almost the 
sole, offender, Rousseau, who began magnificently a sur- 
vey of world-history with the words : "First of afl, let us 

304 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

brush the facts aside I" Curiously enough, Rousseau him- 
self is not such a deep-dyed radical as he has been painted. 
Voltaire and Montesquieu never dreamt of a democratic 
republic for France: neither did Rousseau. He tells us 
unequivocally that his ideal of pure democracy Is appli- 
cable only in small states. When he was consulted about 
constitutions for Corsica and Poland, he began, not by 
brushing the facts aside, but by insisting that the facts 
should be collected and taken Into consideration. 

"Philosophy" did not desire to destroy anything ex- 
cept "abuses" : that these abuses were real, no one, at the 
time or since, could honestly deny. The one fault we have 
to find with the "Philosophers 35 is that they expressed 
themselves in rational terms, that they appealed to prin- 
ciples, instead of arguing solely from precedents. France 
also had tried "muddling through somehow," in accord- 
ance with immemorial custom, and in the most approved 
British fashion. But muddle-headedness is not a thor- 
oughly French virtue. For this regrettable insistence 
upon definiteness and cogency, Montesquieu, Voltaire and 
Rousseau are not exclusively to blame: the germs of the 
disease existed long before their time. Back of them, we 
find Boileau, voicing the creed of Classicism, and pro- 
claiming that Reason should be served and loved. We 
find Descartes, refusing to accept anything as true, unless 
it appeared to his mind clearly and evidently to be such. 
Shall we say then : "C'est la f aute a Boileau, c'est la f aute 
a Descartes"? Hardly, for earlier still, we find the con- 
stant efforts of the King's servants to reduce to intelligi- 
bility the chaos of customs. The eighteenth century is 
accused of inventing the dangerous doctrine of general 
human rights: but if we go back to the middle ages, we 
read in a Charter of 1147 : "A decree of divine Providence 
has ordained that all men, being of the same origin, be 
endowed at their birth with a sort of natural liberty. . . . 
It belongs to Our Royal Majesty to raise them again to 
liberty. . . ." Or we might find in the famous Ordinance 
of Louis X, "le Hutin," in 1315: "As, according to the 
law of nature, every man should be born free . . . we, 

Causes of the Bevolution 305 

considering that our Kingdom is called the Kingdom of 
the Franks (i. ., of the Free) , and that reality should be 
in agreement with the name, have ordered, etc. . . ." 
The Rights of Man, natural liberty, natural equality, 
were therefore commonplaces of ancient standing, and tra- 
ditional principles of the Capetian monarchy. 1 Finally, 
we may add that the social philosophy of the French En- 
lightenment was based upon English doctrines and Eng- 
lish examples, and that in Its turn it influenced the 
political thought of America: if our Anglo-Saxon com- 
placency has any justification, the French "Philosophers" 
can hardly be condemned. 

None of these explanations, therefore, carries convic- 
tion. The French are not a revolutionary people, much 
as they love to jeer and grumble at those in authority. 
Their sufferings, very real, tragic indeed, were not grow- 
ing intolerable: on the contrary, definite improvements 
were taking place. The "Philosophers" were not preach- 
ing disloyalty, violence, anarchy: they were voicing un- 
questioned grievances, and their ideal was, not mob-rule, 
but the firm government of an enlightened despot a 
Frederick II, a Catherine II ; failing this, an enlightened 
minister, a Pombal, a Turgot. Reforms were inevitable : 
the Revolution was not. 


A loyal and patient people was forced into a career of 
violence by the uncompromising attitude of the privilege- 
holders. The most dangerous form of radicalism is the 
radicalism of conservation. Conservation is a misnomer: 
as there is no conservation but in progress, so-called con- 
servatism is in most cases reaction pure and simple. Eng- 
land and France have frequently been contrasted in this 
respect : England is blessed with conservatives who before 
the alternative : "To mend or to end," know how to make 

A. Gasquet: PrScis des Institutions Politiques et Sociales de 
I'Ancienne France, Paris, Hachette, 1885. Vol. II, pp. 281-282. Also Lu~ 
chaire, Histoire des Institutions Monarchiques, Livre IV, Ch. III. 

306 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

the right choice at the proper time. This contrast, how- 
ever, is not due to any racial difference. England has 
always had her "die-hards," and her "bitter-enders" : and 
fine, typical English gentlemen they are held to be. There 
have always been Frenchmen with a genius for compro- 
mise, from Michel de FHospital and Henry of Navarre to 
Gambetta, Jean Jaures and Aristide Briand; and Eng- 
lishmen with a genius for "Thoroughness," from Strafford 
to Edward Carson. But England learned her political 
lesson imperfectly and with the assistance of three revo- 
lutions a century or so before France. 

In that blind resistance to progress, the King was by 
no means the chief offender, and the Court was not alone. 
Members of all classes evinced the narrow-mindedness and 
narrow-heartedness that precipitated the disaster. The 
worst blow to the monarchy was the failure of Turgot*s 
reforms: but the frivolous scepticism of Maurepas and 
the selfishness of the clique which he represented were not 
the only causes of that failure. No reform was closer to 
Turgot's heart than free trade within the limits of the 
nation, and particularly the unhampered circulation of 
cereals. At the first crisis caused by the new liberty, the 
peasants of He-de-France rose in insurrection, besieged 
Versailles, entered Paris, uttering revolutionary threats. 
They may have been secretly abetted by the Court and 
the profiteers, but they distrusted and resented change as 
bitterly as any feudal lord. The industrial and com- 
mercial classes were little better : the abolition of the obso- 
lete and oppressive trade guilds was stubbornly resisted 
by the masters. Every Frenchman, high or low, was 
clamouring against "abuses," but was eager to maintain 
his "rights." And, as England found out in Ireland, one 
man's rights easily turn into another man's wrongs. 

The worst obstacle to orderly progress was probably 
offered by the Parliaments. Their reactionary attitude 
was all the more dangerous because it was magnificently 
camouflaged as respect for the law and resistance to op- 
pression. Even sceptical Paris applauded "the old Ro- 
mans" when they went into exile in 1771. In the great 

Causes of the Revolution 307 

crisis, the Parliaments, servants of the monarchy and 
flower of the Third Estate, managed to thwart the efforts 
of both King and bourgeoisie. We have seen how these 
Courts of Justice had, through a long tradition, made 
themselves quasi-independent of the crown, and usurped 
a semi-political character. There were fine old Parlia- 
mentary dynasties. Mole, Seguier, Lamoignon, d'Agues- 
seau, d'Aligre, forming a "nobility of the gown" as proud 
and as exclusive as the "nobility of the sword." Their 
prerogatives, in their eyes, were as essential a part of the 
"ancient constitution of the realm" as the authority of 
the King himself. They claimed to be the judges of the 
moment "when loyalty is no longer compatible with obedi- 
ence." The old spirit of the Fronde had never died in 
their midst. It had been kept up by their Jansenist sym- 
pathies and their opposition to Ultramontanism. Their 
establishment was not free from abuses: as their offices 
were, in practice, hereditary, a young fop or an old rake 
might sit on the bench. But, on the whole, they were in- 
dependent, educated, and moral far above the general 

Their damning fault was that they had become a caste, 
and therefore the sworn defenders of privilege. For an- 
other reason, they were also committed to reaction. Sin- 
cerely pious, they strove to atone for their hostility 
against the Jesuits through their rigour against free 
thought. The Philosophers had no worse opponents, al- 
though some members of the Parliamentary caste were 
among their best friends. Diderot and Rousseau felt the 
weight of their enmity; and Voltaire, as a part of his 
"philosophical" campaign, wrote a History of the Parlia- 
ment of Paris (1769) , which was a long arraignment. 

In 1771, Maupeou succeeded in effecting a radical re- 
form, which would have reduced the Courts of Justice to 
their proper role. Unfortunately, the circumstances were 
so tangled that public opinion did not unequivocally en- 
dorse the new organization. The right thing had been 
done through the wrong means, and to support Maupeou 
meant condoning Jeanne Becu, Countess du Barry, a 

308 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

favourite from the gutter. In 1774, with the new reign, 
the Maupeou Courts disappeared, and the old order was 
practically restored. The Parliaments again used their 
power to frustrate every attempt at reform. Even more 
than the Court camarilla, they were the soul of resistance: 
they opposed Turgot and they opposed Necker. They 
constantly thwarted the King, who was the only source of 
their authority. In the struggle, their motives became 
more involved and more unaccountable. They courted 
popularity through their resistance to "despotism," ^al- 
though their resistance was most stubborn when despotism 
was most enlightened. The absurdity of their position 
led them to the advocacy of desperate remedies. They, 
who in former ages had feared the States General as a 
possible rival, called for the revival of that half-forgotten 
institution. Thus their antiquarianism oddly coincided 
with the enthusiasm for representative government, which 
was part of the Anglomania and Americanomania of the 
time. And these fossils were hailed as prophets when in 
July 1787, they voted that: "The Nation, represented by 
the States General, alone has the right of granting to the 
King the resources which might prove indispensable." 
But their paradoxical popularity could not last. In their 
eagerness to oppose, they had over-reached themselves. 
When the States General assembled, the Parliaments van- 
ished like a ghost at cock crow: "They are on their vaca- 
tion, 5 ' said Mirabeau ; "let them remain on their vacation 
for ever. Thus they will pass unnoticed from life to 
death. 55 And so it happened: a quiet, inglorious end for 
such an ancient and turbulent body. 

The opposition of the clergy and of the nobility to 
every proposed reform was to be expected. But it was 
neither unanimous nor consistent, and its illogical char- 
acter made it at the same time weak and irritating. The 
clergy was open to severe criticism, which did not orig- 

Causes of the Revolution 309 

mate exclusively from professed Voltairians. Exceed- 
ingly wealthy, it refused to contribute its proper share to 
the support of the state. Its General Assembly period- 
ically voted, in lieu of taxes, a "gratuitous gift" to the 
King : but good care was taken that the burden be light. 
This wealth was scandalously ill-divided. To the priests 
in actual charge of parish duties went a bare pittance, 
called with unintentional irony their "congruous por- 
tion"; whilst absentee beneficiaries and aristocratic prel- 
ates enjoyed to the full the luxury and laxity allowed by 
the time. By the side of a scandalous Prince of the 
Church like Rohan at Strasbourg, there was we could 
hardly say a proletariat but a plebs of ecclesiastics, who 
were sons of the people, suffered like the people, and, 
early In the career of the States General, cast in their lot 
with the people. Rent by social and economic grievances, 
the clergy was far from united in matters of the spirit. 
"Philosophy/ 5 the arch enemy, had penetrated deep 
among its members. Indeed the "philosophical" group 
was well sprinkled with ambiguous ecclesiastics, who re- 
tained the title of Abbe, and whose orthodoxy was as 
paradoxical as Jerome Coignard's. Without mentioning 
Fouche the Oratorian, and Talleyrand the Mephistophe- 
lian Bishop of Autun, whom both Church and Revolu- 
tion would be glad to disown, we find among those curious 
characters Raynal, Mably, his brother Condillac, Sieyes. 
Even the village priests had caught some of the same 
spirit. "Natural Religion" and "Common Sense" had 
made many converts. Rousseau's Savoyard Vicar had a 
prototype and many congeners. The "Cure Meslier" was 
not wholly invented by Voltaire and d'Holbach. Accord- 
ing to Voltaire's own testimony, there were still number- 
less ecclesiastics who were above reproach, and the masses 
of the population were still attached to their traditional 
religion: yet the position of the clergy, weakened by so 
many abuses, had become less secure. But, blind to this 
insecurity, the clergy as a body remained defiantly in- 
tolerant to the very last. It denounced and persecuted 
the "philosophical" ideas which were current among its 

310 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

own members; and It resisted tooth and nail the eman- 
cipation of the Protestants. 

The nobility had not remained impervious to the new 
spirit: the "Philosophers" had found friends and pro- 
tectors in its ranks. Condorcet, the purest embodiment 
perhaps of the Enlightenment, was a Marquis. Another 
Marquis, the stormy Mirabeau, incessantly at war with 
his wife and his son, offered shelter to Rousseau, posed 
sincerely enough as "the Friend of Man/' and, as a leader 
of liberal political economy, enjoyed a wide influence. So 
we are not surprised when we find his no less stormy and 
far more illustrious son marshal the forces of the Third 
Estate in the early decisive moments of its struggle for 
power. A Marquis again was Lafayette, a well-meaning 
and somewhat colourless personage, whose honorable medi- 
ocrity makes him more typical than if he had been a 
genius. La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, of the highest no- 
bility, was a true liberal, an active philanthropist, and a 
practical reformer in agriculture. In sharp contrast with 
this blameless figure, but illustrating the same tendency, 
we find the Duke of Orleans, a disreputable prince, but 
at any rate a thoroughly modern one. He had a keen eye 
for business, and was so mortally afraid of being left 
behind by the tide of liberal ideas that he plunged head- 
long into demagoguery. 

But it was not easy for the nobility to follow this lib- 
eral movement. The nobles were in a difficult plight. 
The extravagance of court life had become an excessive 
burden ; the new rich, the financiers, were setting a stand- 
ard to which the old families could no longer conform 
without undue strain. Their country estates, neglected, 
mismanaged, brought no adequate returns. From the 
new sources of wealth, commerce and industry, they were 
cut off by ancient prejudices: only a few of the high- 
est aristocrats, Chaulnes, Conti, Croy, Orleans, actually 
dared to make money. Had the lesser nobility wanted 
to engage in gainful occupations, they would have had 
to face the hostility, and even the legal resistance, of the 
Third Estate: the "anti-economic prejudice" worked both 

Causes of the Revolution 311 

ways. The nobles were thus compelled, amid fast chang- 
ing circumstances, to cling to their ancient privileges and 
to extract all they could from the bounty of the King. 
So an attempt was made to collect feudal dues from the 
peasants more rigorously than before, at the very moment 
when these dues had been universally condemned by pub- 
lic opinion. The nobles tightened their monopoly of prof- 
itable sinecures in the civil service, of the richest benefices 
in the Church, of the higher ranks in the army. Espe- 
cially did the jeweled paupers of the Court rely upon 
royal alms: direct gifts, payments of debts, pensions. 
The King was open-handed with his friends, Ms wife's 
friends, and the friends of their friends. 

These privileges alone stood between the aristocracy 
and ruin : no wonder the old nobility hated to share them 
with parvenu families, who had bought a title along with 
some office or estate. So the ancient regime stiffened at 
the last moment. Access to Court was made more dif- 
ficult ; the list of noble families was carefully revised ; by 
the notorious Ordinance of 1781, nobles of recent creation, 
as well as commoners, were debarred from reaching even 
a captaincy. The nobility, like the Parliaments, like the 
Clergy as an Order in the State, had shown itself in- 
adaptable. It had of its own accord ruled out one of 
the alternatives : Mend or End. 

A large degree of personal responsibility attaches to 
some exalted personages, and particularly to the brothers 
of Louis XVI. The Count of Provence and the Count of 
Artois were extravagant when extravagance was a public 
crime. Their frivolity did not have even the excuse of 
good nature : for they were venomous in their hostility to 
the Queen. They did their best to force a crisis: when 
it came, they were among the first to leave France before 
they were in actual danger. They intrigued with foreign 
nations against their own. They steadily declined to run 
the slightest risk in the defence of their cause ; and they 
returned from exile unchanged except for an added touch 
of religious bigotry, making Bourbonism a by-word. 

Heavier still is the responsibility of the Queen. Her 

312 The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

recklessness constantly added to the difficulties of the 
Treasury, and would not be curbed. Her thirst for plea- 
sure, interpreted as immorality, weakened the authority 
of the crown: it was a sinister omen when a large part of 
public opinion believed, with the Cardinal de Rohan, that 
the Queen of France could be bribed with a diamond neck- 
lace. Her capricious and haughty temper destroyed the 
favourable effect that her beauty might produce. On the 
French throne, she remained a loyal Austrian: thus dem- 
onstrating to the people that a sovereign might ^be her 
nation's enemy. She possessed that obstinacy which, di- 
vorced from intelligence and generosity, can hardly be 
called strength of mind. Yet the glamour that Burke, 
among others, has cast upon her figure still dazzles our 

The chief cause of the catastrophe, however, is that the 
monarchy, in the hour of decision, was untrue to its essen- 
tial tradition. This was not the fault of the kindly, sensi- 
ble and conscientious Louis XVI: he hesitated and 
shuffled, not simply because his mind and his will were 
none of the strongest, but because the ambiguity lay deep 
in the history of the Capetian line. The secret of its 
power had been its national character, the tacit alliance 
of King and people against the selfish, arrogant and 
turbulent nobles ; but the form of its rule had been aris- 
tocratic : in all externals, the King was the first nobleman 
in the land. Under Louis XIV, some kind of equilibrium 
had been preserved between those conflicting elements; 
under Louis XV, the king had lost contact with the peo- 
ple. It would have taken a man of unusual strength and 
vision, well advised, well supported, to break loose from 
the circle of his immediate friends, and resume his place 
at the head of the nation. Louis XVI could not escape. 
He felt himself in duty bound to defend those parasites 
who posed as his defenders. He spoke of "my nobility, 
my clergy": he, the hereditary enemy of privileges, de- 
liberately cast in his lot with the privilege-holders. It is 
what a conservative historian, Louis Madelin, calls "le 
fau%-bond du Roi"i the King failed his people. Reforms 

Causes of the Revolution 313 

could have been effected through the King: he did not 
understand. Even then, they might have been carried out 
with the King : he missed his chance again. So the move- 
ment swept on, without him, and, as he struggled, against 
him: and it was the Revolution. 



The three essential factors: deficit, conflict with the Church, 
foreign intervention. 

I. The immediate cause: impending bankruptcy. Prodigality. 
Wasteful method of tax collection. Unequal distribution. Last 
efforts: Necker^ Calonne. The first Eevolution: May- August 

II. Ecclesiastical Problem. Financial reorganization of the 
Church. Administrative reconstruction. Extreme Gallicanism. 
Opposition of the Pope. Louis XVI, out of piety, commits him- 
self to counter-Revolution. Second Revolution (Aug. 1792): 
fall of the monarchy. 

III. Foreign intervention. War. Equivocal position of Louis 
XVI. Brunswick's manifesto. Exasperation and resulting Ter- 
rorism. Victory: national as much as Republican. 

IV. The alleged benefits of the Revolution. Reorganization 
of France under the Convention: grandiose projects. Conserva- 
tive in social-economic matters: sacredness of private property. 
One grand achievement: vast transfer of real property. Bank- 
ruptcy not averted. 

V. The "Verdict of History" ? Michelet the greatest historian 
of the Revolution. Spiritual havoc wrought by Revolution. 

THE second half of the eighteenth century was filled 
with a confused struggle between reform and privi- 
lege. Reform suffered many a check, privilege 
scored more than one Pyrrhic victory : yet the trend was 
unmistakable. The King vacillated : but he had not fully 
committed himself to the defence of the ancient order, and 
the people's faith in him as their natural leader had not 
been completely shattered. This prolonged battle might 
have proceeded for another generation, in the same man- 
ner as the interminable contest between capitalism and 
labour in twentieth century England. Three factors in 
succession turned desultory agitation into sharply defined 
crises. The financial situation brought matters to a head, 
and the Revolution opened. The reorganization of the 


The Revolution 315 

Church completely estranged the King from the reform- 
ers, and the monarchy was doomed. Foreign intervention 
roused passion to a white heat: non-conformity became 
treason, and Terrorism was urged as the sole means of 
public salvation. 

The ancient regime perished through its finances. It 
was not the "hydra of radicalism 95 that portended its fall, 
but, in Mirabeau's words, "hideous Bankruptcy." All its 
sins of omission and commission finally translated them- 
selves into accusing figures on the balance-sheet. The 
financial system if anarchy may be called a system 
was wrong at every turn. The expenditure of the Court 
literally knew no bounds, for it was controlled by no 
budget, and no adequate records were kept. The irony 
of it is that Louis XVI was a man of simple tastes ; as a 
master locksmith, he would have been perfectly happy. 
He was a voracious eater and a mighty hunter : but these 
pleasures would not have ruined the state. Even Marie- 
Antoinette toyed with the new ideal of simplicity, which 
came in with Rousseau-worship and American sympa- 
thies. Yet never had the outlay at Versailles mounted 
higher. The Court was swarming with sinecurists, great 
and small, proliferating like germs in a diseased tissue. 
Waste was not an incident, but a principle. Minor es- 
tablishments like those of the King's aunts devoured the 
revenue of a province. The Queen's friends, the Poli- 
gnacs, the Lamballes, were yawning gulfs. We may add 
that the gigantic parasitism of Versailles was not the 
only cause of heavy expenditure. A spirited foreign pol- 
icy is a costly luxury. The American War depleted the 
French treasury even worse than the insane prodigality 
of Marie- Antoinette. 

This revenue, so freely dissipated, was collected in a 
most wasteful fashion. Yet how can we find words to 
condemn the ancient regime in this respect? It believed 
in the very sound principle that private enterprise will 

316 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

invariably prove more efficient than direct administration 
by the State. So the collection of taxes was farmed out 
to great contractors (Fermiers Generaux), who made it 
their business to exact from the people as much as they 
could, and to yield to the King no more than they had 
to. These great concessionnaires have left a sinister name 
in history, and the Revolution sentenced to death all the 
survivors of that hated order. Yet we have seen that this 
world of finance formed on the whole an intelligent so- 
ciety, which encouraged art and sympathized with "phi- 
losophy." Among them was Lavoisier: the scientist in 
Mm could not save the financier from the guillotine. 

Worst of all was the unequal distribution of the burden. 
The clergy and the nobility did contribute in cash to the 
support of the State: but they had never completely over- 
come the prejudice that taxpaying was in itself something 
servile. The priest prayed for the State and faith it 
needed it!; the noble was ready to shed his blood in its 
defence; both resented the degrading idea of paying vul- 
gar money. The trouble was that these idealistic orders 
detained a large proportion of the country's material 
wealth. The clergy was insolently rich; and, if the old 
nobility was in financial trouble, it was only on account 
of its recklessness: it still held an enormous amount of 
landed property. Furthermore, the richest bourgeois 
sought to buy themselves titles, and claimed exemption in 
their turn. Logically, the poor alone were to pay. When- 
ever an effort was made to submit all sorts and conditions 
of men and of land to equitable taxation, the upper classes 
protested against such an insult to their dignity. It 
looked as though they had faith in but one scriptural 
passage: From him that hath not shall be taken away 
even that which he hath. 

Necker did his best, from 1777 to 1781. He attempted 
to shed some light on the chaos of state finances, and to 
pare down sinecures and pensions. Riddled with epi- 
grams, accused of destroying "the ancient edifice of the 
monarchy, 55 he had to resign. Calonne tried a method 
much pleasanter than retrenchment: his panacea was lav- 

The Revolution 317 

ishness, which would quicken the economic rhythm and 
encourage activity, by restoring optimism. On the 
strength of this renewed confidence, more money could be 
borrowed, and so ad infinitwm. No wonder Marie-Antoi- 
nette considered Calonne as a wizard. This wild gamble 
might have succeeded, had the wealth of the country been 
expanding at a faster rate, and had the bulk of the ex- 
penditure been of a productive kind : thus did the Second 
Empire create genuine wealth through display and bor- 
rowing. But under Calonne, the proceeds of taxes and 
loans were squandered in sheer extravagance, and bank- 
ruptcy drew threateningly near. Calonne was forced back 
to the ideas of Necker ; and as he knew that the Parlia- 
ments would never endorse the sweeping reforms that had 
become necessary, he suggested an Assembly of Notables, 
which met in 1787. The Assembly turned down his pro- 
posals, and he fell. His opponent and successor Lomenie 
de Brienne had ultimately nothing to offer but the in- 
evitable sacrifices: Notables and Parliaments balked 
again. Every attempt at patching up the old machine 
had been blocked. In a curious mood of defiance and 
desperation, the arch-reactionaries, the Parliaments, en- 
dorsed the most hazardous of all remedies, the States 

With the meeting of that Assembly (May 5, 1789), the 
first Revolution actually begins. Within three months, it 
was completed. On June 17, the Third Estate, claiming 
to represent the vast majority of the nation, transformed 
the States General into a National Assembly ; on the 20th, 
the deputies swore never to separate until they had given 
France a constitution ; on the 23rd, they refused to obey 
the King's command that they meet as three*- separate 
bodies ; on the 27th, the King gives in, and the two upper 
orders, Clergy and Nobility, joined the Third Estate. 
On the llth of July, signs of counter-revolutionary ac- 
tivities excited the fear and anger of the Parisian popula- 
tion; on the 14th, the storming of the Bastille was a sharp 
reminder that the people would brook no reaction. The 
agitation gained the whole of France; the peasants joined 

318 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

at last the bourgeoisie and the city workers. On the night 
of August 4rth, in a lucid frenzy compounded of logic, 
generosity and fear, the privilege-holders bowed to their 
fate. In ninety days, with very little shedding of blood, 
the abuses had been swept away. The King's popularity 
was still unimpaired: at that time, Danton, Robespierre, 
and even Marat were royalists. All that had perished 
was the last vestige of Feudalism: and the suppression of 
Feudalism had been the goal of the Kings for three hun- 
dred years, 


Had all Frenchmen worked harmoniously together, the 
task of reconstruction would still have been formidable: 
and the quasi-unanimity achieved on the night of August 
4th did not survive the sober dawn. Errors, wrangles, 
crises, were to be expected: still, the worst was over, and 
no difficulty seemed insuperable. It was the religion ques- 
tion which made a smooth transition between the old 
regime and the new an impossibility. 

The confiscation of Church property was proposed in 
a spirit, not of vengeance, but of justice. It was hardly 
safe for the clergy to be absurdly rich in the midst of a 
bankrupt kingdom ; it was even less safe for it to starve 
its hardest workers in order to pamper a few aristocrats. 
The necessity of a redistribution was felt by all, and not 
least by loyal Catholics. Legally, the Clergy, as well as 
the nobility, had ceased to exist as a separate order in 
the State: its property was placed at the disposal of the 
nation. The first use to be made of this property was to 
assure the adequate support of all priests who were actu- 
ally ministering to the religious needs of the people. This 
done, a vast surplus was left, which could be applied to 
the reduction, or even the extinction of the national deficit. 
So far, the plan was statesmanlike ; and, much as certain 
conservative elements may have disliked it, they found 
downright opposition a very unpopular attitude. 

The financial readjustment was dangerous, but feasi- 

The Revolution 310 

ble: unfortunately, there went with it an administrative 
reorganization of the most sweeping character. The 
Church had always been so intimately connected with the 
monarchy that the reform of the one seemed to carry with 
it the reform of the other. There was nothing spiritual, 
for instance, about the boundaries of the bishoprics : they 
followed closely those of the ancient Gallo-Roman cities. 
Why such an anachronism, and what would be more nat- 
ural than to have the dioceses coincide with the newly 
created "departments"? Election, in the new France, had 
everywhere taken the place of appointment from above: 
but this method had been used by the primitive Church, 
and could be restored without interfering with any dogma, . 
The Gallican Church had, for untold centuries, enjoyed 
a large measure of autonomy under the purely spiritual 
authority of the Pope. The Declaration of the Four Ar- 
ticles, in 1682, was the most emphatic statement of these 
claims, which King and Parliament had endorsed, if not 
dictated. Why should not the State, therefore, enact that 
the newly elected Bishops should merely notify the Pope 
of their elevation, without seeking his confirmation of 
their title? It was extreme Gallicanism no doubt, but 
still it was Gallicanism, a policy rooted in venerable tra- 

Each of these contentions, separately, would have been 
defensible, although each would have created bitter dif- 
ficulties. Coming as they did all together, they proved 
inacceptable. The Church might grumblingly have jet- 
tisoned much of her wealth, if in other respects her ancient 
customs had not been disturbed. Rome had found it pos- 
sible before to compromise, albeit reluctantly, with some 
degree of Gallican independence : the King was His Most 
Christian Majesty, the Lord's Anointed, the Eldest Son 
of the Church. But the Gallicanism of an Assembly was 
a totally different affair: an Assembly did not place its 
soul, like the King, in the keeping of a confessor; an 
Assembly was capable of turning the Abbey of St. Gene- 
vieve into a Pantheon for Voltaire and Rousseau. It 
would have been hard enough for the Church to retrace 

320 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

her steps after so many centuries, and to accept the prin- 
ciple of popular election, if the faithful alone had been 
entitled to a vote: but according to the Constitution, all 
the political electors, including Jews, Protestants and in- 
fidels, could take part in the choice of priests. With so 
many difficulties in its path, we may wonder, not that the 
Constitutional Church failed, but that its start was not 
absolutely discouraging, that its personnel was far from 
despicable, and that it managed to survive, through many 
trials, until the Concordat. 

The Assembly had no thought of religious schism, and 
professed loyalty to the Pope. But the Pope was injured 
and affronted at every turn. The King's Ambassador at 
Rome, Bernis, did nothing to allay his indignation or his 
fears. On the contrary, it served the purpose of the aris- 
tocratic group with which Bernis was in sympathy that 
the Pope should condemn the Revolution. An unfortu- 
nate side issue envenomed the situation: the Pope still held 
Avignon and the surrounding County, as an enclave In 
French territory. Some at least of the inhabitants de- 
sired union with France; and the annexation of the little 
district was decided upon without due regard for the 
legitimate sovereign. Not without deliberation, the Pope 
condemned at last the ecclesiastical legislation of France, 
and forbade priests taking the "civic oath." This was the 
formal declaration of war between the factions. Clerics 
and nobles now had a religious justification for their 
struggle. They felt they were fighting, no longer for 
pride or privilege, but for their faith. And in mrny 
provinces the devout peasantry stood with them, whilst 
even in Paris, the middle class began to waver. Resistance 
drew persecution, and persecution intensified resistance. 

The result of this breach was particularly fateful in the 
case of the King. Louis XVI, had shilly-shallied. He 
felt obscurely that much goodf might come out of the 
movement, and repeatedly, he seemed more than half- 
reconciled with the change. He was both too kindly and 
too torpid to offer much of a fight when his own privi- 
leges or even those of his closest friends were clipped. 

The Revolution 321 

But when Rome had spoken, he obeyed. He obeyed, not 
only with the passivity of a good Catholic, but with inner 
alacrity, because the words of the Pope crystallized his 
latent misgivings. From that time, he might yield to the 
Revolution, under duress, and with mental reservations: 
but he was at heart irreconcilable. When the Constitu- 
tion was at last inaugurated, France beheld the strange 
and sorry spectacle of a King enthroned who, a few weeks 
before, had run away in disguise from his capital, and 
attempted to join the enemies of his own government. It 
was a miracle that such a situation endured fourteen 
months. The monarchy collapsed on the 10th of August 
1792 at the touch of the populace : but it had received its 
death wound on the 20th of June 1791, when the royal 
family started on the pitiful adventure that was to end at 


The last disturbing element was foreign intervention. 
England and America enjoy an enormous advantage over 
France : they are allowed to have their civil wars in peace. 
A nation with artificial frontiers and jealous neighbours 
can not always follow Napoleon's homely bit of advice: 
"II faut laver son linge sale en famille." 

The irreconcilable French nobles, following the Count 
of Artois in voluntary emigration, formed a little anti- 
Revolutionary army at Coblenz : that this army should be 
tolerated was in itself a casus belli. The German princes 
who held feudal property in Alsace protested against the 
suppression of their "rights'* with as much determination 
as certain oil companies protest against the Mexican con- 
stitution. The Austrian Queen of France was appealing 
for support to her brother the Emperor. The Pope was 
denouncing the policy of the Revolution. Apart from 
these definite causes of conflict, more general factors were 
at work. It was soon felt that the French Revolution was 
a European problem. The example of France, the oldest 
monarchy, and the center of the most brilliant culture, 

The Life and Death, of an Ideal 

was likely to be contagious. Even liberal princes began 
to feel uneasy. In addition, they might want to take ad- 
vantage of France's troubles: France had profited fre- 
quently enough by their divisions. 

Whilst difficulties were thus accumulating, all parties 
in France seemed to welcome the idea of war each hoping 
that it would strengthen its hands. Marat was among the 
few publicists who resolutely advocated peace. 

When war was finally declared, against the Emperor 
and his ally the King of Prussia, Louis XVI was placed 
at a terrible disadvantage. His popularity, for the last 
time, could have been restored, if, in the hour of national 
danger, he had resumed his rightful place at the head of 
his people. But it was felt, and ultimately it was proved, 
that the royal circle considered the enemies as deliverers. 
The King was thenceforward a traitor in spirit; the 
Queen was accused of being a traitor in fact, betraying 
to her Austrian friends the plans of the French. ^The 
manifesto of the Prussian commander, Brunswick, with a 
tactlessness so enormous that it seems intentional, empha- 
sized the solidarity between the royal family and the ene- 
mies of France. Salus populi suprema lex esto: no nation 
engaged in a lif e-and-death struggle has ever shown much 
mercy to traitors. And the fact that "treason* 5 was 
ubiquitous did not dilute its venom: it only made the 
plight of the country more appalling, and more impla- 
cable the resulting mood. England had a short way with 
Sir Roger Casement: had there been ten thousand such, 
repression would have been, not more lenient, but swifter 

The situation of France early in 1793 was unexampled. 
Half Europe was now in coalition against her ; her aris- 
tocratic officers had deserted almost in a body ; those who 
remained were hardly to be trusted; no priest could re- 
main faithful to the Pope without being in flagrant re- 
bellion against the Constitution. More than one fourth of 
France, in the South and in the West, had risen against 
Paris. Republican France was a besieged fortress, torn 
by strife within. The result was a state of exasperation 

The Revolution 823 

verging upon madness. Of this "preternatural sus- 
picion," as Carlyle called it, of this "obsidional fever," 
Marat is the sinister symptom. The "Friend of the Peo- 
ple," as he liked to style himself, had for a long time 
found comparatively few sympathizers. But as his worst 
predictions came to pass, he seemed to incarnate the som- 
bre resolve of a people at bay. He may not have urged 
the massacre of prisoners in September 1792 : the ferocity 
of many had slowly risen to the pitch of his own. When 
Charlotte Corday stabbed him, he was worshipped as a 

Terror feeds upon itself, and can not compromise. A 
cowed adversary remains under suspicion : the very wrongs 
inflicted upon his friends make it more likely that he is 
nursing plans of vengeance. So the circle of victims 
widened endlessly. When actual traitors had met their 
fate, open sympathizers, half-hearted sympathizers, pos- 
sible sympathizers, had their turn. Neutrals followed, 
moderate republicans, Terrorists nauseated at last by 
the reek of blood. Camille Desmoulins and Danton had 
to expiate on the guillotine the crime of "indulgence." 
Robespierre alone, unflinching, incorruptible, was re- 
storing the reign of virtue by cutting down all those who 
were less pure than himself. As an omen of the millen- 
nium which he hoped to establish, he rededicated France 
to the worship of a purified deity, the "Supreme Being." 
The tragic irony of it all is that Robespierre did not per- 
ish through a rebellion of the sane and humane elements : 
he was ignobly tumbled down from his throne by a coali- 
tion of the vilest, men who had terrorized out of cow- 
ardice, and who felt the approaching cold of Ms accusing 
glance. Ill fares the nation that is "saved" by Tallien 
and Barras. 

The Convention, at any rate, had prevented the armies 
from being stabbed in the back. This, and only this, af- 
fords a shadow of justification for the Terror. The war- 
fare that raged on the Paris front was of secondary im- 
portance : the guillotine made fewer victims than a single 
battle. The course of French history at that time can 

324 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

not be understood if we do not turn our back on the capi- 
tal and watch the conflict at the frontiers. There the 
fate of France and the Revolution was being decided. 
There was the soul of the country and the best of her 
sons. And, within three years, the ragged hosts of the 
Republic, with their boyish impromptu generals, had de- 
feated Europe. 

The victory was a clear fact: it was registered in the 
treaties of Basel. Its causes are multifarious and obscure. 
Whilst Goethe saw at Valmy the dawn of a new era in the 
history of the world, cynics assert that the unripe grapes 
of Champagne had much to do with the prompt discour- 
agement of the Prussian troops. A coalition is ever at a 
disadvantage against a united enemy: especially a coali- 
tion of such inveterate rivals as Austria and Prussia were 
in those days, each mortally afraid lest the other leave her 
in the lurch on the Western front, and steal a march in 
the partition of Poland. The loss of her superior officers 
had not been for France an unmitigated evil : many were 
mere courtiers without technical knowledge, experience or 
authority. However, although it was Republican France 
that fought and triumphed, that France, in all essentials, 
was one with the France of the kings. Enthusiasm alone 
does not win battles : the first volunteers fled in a panic. 
Legions do not spring from the soil, officered, drilled and 
equipped, when the Country in danger stamps her foot. 
The revolutionary recruits were not steadied into gen- 
uine soldiers until they were "amalgamated" with vet- 
erans. The ordnance used by Carnot and by Napoleon 
was that of Gribeauval, created under the ancient regime. 
In the more scientific and less aristocratic branches of the 
service, the artillery and the engineers' corps, many offi- 
cers had remained loyal to the Revolution. And a man 
was found who evolved a strategy adequate to the re- 
sources and the needs of the time. To the small, care- 
fully drilled armies of the Frederician type, Carnot op- 
posed masses of unprecedented magnitude: twelve hun- 
dred thousand men. To the learned chess game of their 
manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres, he substituted a war 

The Revolution 325 

of swift motion. But Carnot's genius, so unjustly eclipsed 
in our eyes by the fame of Bonaparte, was not the one 
decisive element. He was only the "Organizer of Vic- 
tory. 5 ' It was the whole momentum of France's tradition 
that carried her through the desperate struggle. The new 
liberty fired the enthusiasm of the fighters: but no less 
ardent was their pride in the ancient fame of France. 
The nation and the Republic were one: but victory was 
national, even more than it was republican. This is felt 
to the present day, when conservatives and even royalists, 
full of hatred and contempt for the politicians of the Con- 
vention, can not repress a thrill of joy at the names of 
Valmy, Jemmapes, Wattignies and Fleurus. 


According to orthodox Republican history, the Con- 
vention, torn by factional strife, engrossed in civil and 
foreign war, harassed by an acute economic and financial 
crisis, found time and energy to continue the reorgani- 
zation of France. An impressive list of creations is ad- 
duced: the Polytechnic School, the Institute of France, 
and the introduction of the metric system are among the 
most famous. 1 Had the Convention achieved much of per- 
manent value under such tragic circumstances, it would 
indeed be a miracle. Much more probably, it is a myth. 
No doubt the "Plain" and the "Marsh," as the moderate 
parties were contemptuously called, had leisure enough to 
legislate, and to legislate wisely, in the lulls of the storm. 
Much of their time was wasted in entertaining grotesque 
delegations, but not all their time. After a century of 
teeming "philosophy," it was to be expected that in- 
numerable proposals for reform should be ready, and that 

1 The Revolutionary Calendar was discarded at the end of a few 
years (Jan. 1, 1806) ; but it remains perennially attractive with the 
poetical names of its months: Vendemiaire, Brumaire, Frimaire; Kiv6se, 
Pluviose, Ventose; Germinal, Floreal, Prairial; Messidor, Thermidor, 
Fructidor. The minor poet Fabre d'Eglantine worked more durably 
than Robespierre. 

326 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

some of them should be elaborate and sensible enough. 
The great plan for public education drawn up by La- 
kanal would do credit even to a modern democracy. But 
the mere endorsement of such a scheme means surprizingly 
little. As was to be expected, much was voted that re- 
mained on paper. A new name tagged on to an ancient 
institution the "King's Garden," for instance, a great 
scientific center under Buffon, became the "Museum of 
Natural History" is rather a shadowy victory for prog- 
ress. With all the palingenesis bluff eliminated, the rec- 
ord of the Convention is creditable enough: but super- 
human it Is not. 

After strange vagaries in the religious field, the Con- 
vention came very near undoing the worst blunder of the 
Constituent Assembly: in 1794, it voted the complete 
separation of Church and State. Unfortunately this vic- 
tory for common sense remained a purely negative one: 
it was not followed by its corollary : free churches in a free 
state. The ecclesiastical problem remained unsolved, thus 
enabling Bonaparte, with his patched-up Concordat, to 
restore a union which could never again be whole-hearted. 

The social legislation of the Revolution was, in prin- 
ciple, purely conservative. Whilst feudalism was abol- 
ished, private property was declared an inalienable and 
sacred right. This faith in the sacredness of property 
was not weakened under the Convention. Individualism 
remained the official philosophy : the Revolutionists did not 
foresee the industrial transformation, already well on its 
way in England, which was to make economic individual- 
ism obsolete. It was natural that the great upheaval, and 
the condemnation of political inequality, should create a 
demand for economic equality: such a demand the great 
radical assembly considered with virtuous horror. Death 
was to be the punishment of any one who should propose 
a communistic measure, or, as it was called in memory of 
the Gracchi, "an agrarian law." At the height of the 
crisis, price-fixing by the state (the "maximum") was 
adopted as a desperate remedy: but it was abandoned at 
the fall of Robespierre, and profiteering knew no bounds. 

The Revolution 327 

The Thermidorian reaction and the Directolre were the 
paradise of the nowveaux riches. 

Blood and destruction had been of no avail. In 1794, 
or in I799 5 the Revolution had not gone a single step be- 
yond Its one great achievement, the abolition of feudal 
privileges on the night of August 4th 1789- The one 
thing that it had sought to avert came to pass, inexorably. 
It was the fear of bankruptcy that forced the King to call 
the States General; the property of the clergy and that 
of the emigrating nobles were thrown into the gulf, and, 
in 1795, France was more hopelessly bankrupt than in 
1789. The confiscated estates had served as security for 
paper money, the assignats. With the absurd multipli- 
cation of these assignats, genuine and counterfeited, and 
with the total loss of confidence in the revolutionary gov- 
ernments, their value had fallen to practically nothing. 
The treasury was in a more desperate condition under the 
DIrectoire than it had been under Calonne and Lomenie 
de Brienne. The ancient regime had perished, but the 
finances were not saved. 

Was the Revolution wholly futile then, a prolonged 
nightmare that left the country weak and aching? Some- 
thing substantial had been done: a vast transfer of real 
property. Not only were the peasants liberated from all 
feudal dues; but they had a chance of appeasing their 
land-hunger in purchasing the confiscated estates of 
nobles and clergy. In payment for these estates, the fast 
depreciating assignats were accepted at their face value, 
whilst the farmers sold their produce at ever mounting 
prices. In this way, they got the land for a song. Not all 
of it went to the tillers of the soil. Many nobles were 
shrewd or popular enough to keep their estates; others 
managed to repurchase them secretly through agents : the 
landed aristocracy is still a power in France, especially 
in the West. The urban middle class was not likely to let 
such a splendid opportunity go by, and the bourgeois 
too secured their share of nationalized property. But on 
the whole, the impregnable class of peasant proprietors, 
which existed before the Revolution, was enormously 

The Life and Death of an Ideal 

strengthened. This gave the new regime the broadest 
basis : henceforth, no sweeping counter-revolution was con- 
ceivable, for the most conservative class, the peasantry, 
had been given something tangible to conserve. 

If time, if discussion, if scholarship could settle any- 
thing, we should by this time be in possession of "the 
truth about the French Revolution." Yet such a verdict 
seems as far from our reach as ever. The great epic writ- 
ers, Carlyle, Michelet, Taine, endure, on account of their 
literary splendour : but in this respect, they do not stand 
apart from the fictionists, Dickens, Victor Hugo, Anatole 
France. The most careful modern investigators, Aulard, 
Mathiez, and their peers, scientific enough in establish- 
ing details, are manifestly partisan. Perhaps the one who 
most nearly carries conviction is Michelet. A much more 
thorough scholar than Carlyle or Taine, a greater poet, a 
more generous soul, he alone communicates to us the flame 
of enthusiasm without which the Revolution proves unin- 
telligible. No movement in history can be understood 
through the accumulation of material facts alone : a move- 
OQent is a spirit ; or, if a more pedantic term be more ac- 
ceptable, "a phenomenon of collective psychology." The 
spirit of Michelet, projected on the chaos of the Revolu- 
tion, gives it a meaning. The spirit of Taine gives none : 
men do not fight and work as the French did in those 
years in a mere fit of national insanity. 

With Michelet, we feel impatient at the selfishness and 
pride of the few incorrigible privilege-holders who goaded 
a loyal nation into ways of violence. We can not withhold 
our sympathy from a people fighting in the name of Lib- 
erty, Equality, Fraternity; and fighting, not for them- 
selves alone, but for all mankind. If the end could have 
been achieved in no other way, and especially if it had 
actually been achieved, we might be inclined not to count 
the cost. 

But the spiritual havoc wrought by the Revolution was 

The Revolution 329 

more permanent than mere loss of goods, or even of lives. 
The mystic faith in violence created by the apparent vic- 
tory of the Revolution is a poison which, after a century 
of turmoil, has not been fully eliminated. The great crisis 
made the majority of Frenchmen unjust toward their own 
past : in order to justify the massacres of September, the 
death of the Royal Family and the rule of Terror, the 
ancient regime had to be maligned. Napoleon I and 
Louis-Philippe tried to reconcile past and present: but 
their eclecticism was not wholly successful. Generations 
were brought up in the belief that, before 1789, every- 
thing was wrong, except the denunciations of a few 
"Philosophers." This mutilation of history in this we 
agree with the most conservative historians, Dimier, Bain- 
ville, Maurras is a mutilation of the national soul. 

If we compare France in the middle of the nineteenth 
century with France in the middle of the eighteenth, we 
can not suppress a feeling of loss. It ought not to be so : 
material progress is undeniable; knowledge as well as 
comfort were more widely diffused, poetical sources long 
sealed had been reopened, science was assuming pro- 
founder meaning. Yet, with it all, we are conscious of a 
vulgarisation, a rebarbarisation. We do not wish to ideal- 
ize the ancient regime : but it offered at its best a combi- 
nation of grace and seriousness, of wit and generosity, a 
smiling and active confidence in human nature, in reason, 
in progress, which we do not find in the spiritually 
shrunken elites of the succeeding age. The wisdom of 
prejudice, the sacredness of loose thinking, the beauty of 
make-believe, the worship of mere wealth, the legitimacy 
of force, all these ideas were obsolete among "Philoso- 
phers" long before 1789 ; and the nobles themselves were 
fast catching "philosophy." In what Leon Daudet not 
inaptly calls "the Stupid Nineteenth Century," every 
crude and brutal fallacy took a new lease of life ; nor was 
it any less crude or brutal because it assumed romantic 
glamour or pseudo-scientific rigour. This regression of 
the governing classes is well marked throughout Europe, 
and not merely in France: a Catherine II, a Frederick 

330 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

II, even a Joseph II, were Incomparably more "enlight- 
ened" than their successors, and Spain, Portugal, Naples, 
could tell the same tale. For this new darkness that over- 
spread European culture, the Revolution is responsible: 
because the light became a torch, it had to be extin- 
guished. We are barely rediscovering at present our true 
leaders, and restoring contact with them over the reac- 
tionary abyss created, in recoil, by the Terror. When our 
thought is again as clear, as free, as generous as Vol- 
taire's, the wounds inflicted by the Revolution will at last 
be healed. We can hardly forgive the great cataclysm 
for setting back, indefinitely, the promises of the Enlight- 
enment ; least of all can we forgive the blind conservatism 
which forced the irrepressible spirit of reform into the 
catastrophic channel of revolution. 



Career, Personality, Legend. 

I. Napoleon's career as a conqueror. Policy determined by 
treaties of Basel. No permanent result. Heavy cost. Glory not 
unalloyed. Heritage of hatred. Conquests detrimental to diffu- 
sion of French ideas. 

II. Napoleon's career as a civil ruler. Constitutions. Codes. 
Prefects. Legion of Honour. University of France. Concordat. 
Friend or foe of the Revolution ? 

III. Napoleon's personality. Morality and taste not above 
mediocrity. Efficiency in swift decision. Ambition unchecked 
by tradition or scruple. Touch of madness. 

IV. The Napoleonic Legend: & creation of Romanticism. 
Napoleon the supreme classicist, and the Romantic ideal incar- 

THREE elements are mingled in Napoleon's marvelous 
destiny : his career, his personality, his legend. They 
blend so intimately that it is almost impossible to 
tell them apart. Yet the attempt should be made. His- 
torians too often ascribe to the man what in truth belongs 
to the epoch ; and they mistake for the cold light of sci- 
ence what in fact is the afterglow of romance. 

By "career/* we mean the facts of Napoleon's public 
life, the historical events of which he was the center bat- 
tles, treaties, coups d'etat, institutions. It is obvious that 
these were not purely and simply the extension of his per- 
sonality, but rather its colourful setting. The man Napo- 
leon would have had very much the same temper, and, po- 
tentially, the same genius, if, born fifty years earlier, he 
had lived and died in obscurity, a fractious petty noble in 
wild Corsica. He needed the storm to rise, and lie did not 
create the storm. He used it, he gave it a dramatic focus : 
but we are not certain whether he deflected it at all. Much 
that happened during his reign, much that was done in his 
name or even by his express command, neither originated 
with him, nor even was fashioned by him. A necessity 


332 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

deeper than the power of a single man was at work. Na- 
poleon was no King Log: but, like all leaders* he was 
driven; like all autocrats, he was a figure-head; like all 
gods, he was a symbol. 

By "legend," we do not mean a fabrication or a myth: 
Napoleon, we firmly believe, actually did exist in the flesh, 
and performed most of the things that are related of him. 
A "legend" is the epic amplification of reality that takes 
place, spontaneously, half-consciously, in the popular 
mind, and is further elaborated by the poets. A legend is 
much more difficult to detect than a lie : it is a magic light 
which plays upon reality, reveals it and transmutes it. 
You may spend a lifetime investigating the facts that fit 
into the legend, without ever questioning its fundamental 
delusion. Some of the most scholarly among the biog- 
raphers of Napoleon are as uncritical in this respect as 
medieval hagiographers. 

Between these vast collective forces the anonymous, 
uncontrollable logic of events, and the poetic imagination 
of the people the personality of Napoleon, definite and 
intense though it was, almost disappears. Emil Ludwig 
promised us a study of Napoleon the Man : but on every 
page of his book, we find instead Napoleon the Ruler or 
Napoleon the Hero of Romance. And it is the supreme 
triumph of Napoleon's genius that his personality should 
thus be absorbed. There may be men who are greater 
than their fate: Napoleon was not one of them. Neither 
did he prove unequal to his opportunity. He embraced his 
career so ardently, he identified himself with it so con- 
sciously, that men could reasonably doubt whether Na- 
poleon shaped the events, or the events Napoleon, 

A paradox reduced to an epigram is mere flippancy; 
expanded into seven learned volumes, it becomes a corner 
stone of history. Albert Sorel, in his Europe and the 
French Revolution, demonstrated, to the satisfaction of 
most scholars, that Napoleon's flamboyant career hardly 

The Supreme Classicist: Napoleon 333 

affected the essential course of events. For the constant 
wars which marked his reign, his "insatiable ambition 55 
was not solely responsible; the ultimate day of reckoning, 
all his genius could not avert. The settlement at Waterloo 
and Vienna in 1815 was the consequence of the treaties of 
Basel twenty years before; and the treaties of Basel 
themselves were dictated, not by the spirit of the Revolu- 
tion, but by the ghosts of Henry II, Richelieu, Mazarin 
and Louis XIV. 

The Convention, as we have seen, had defeated her ene- 
mies abroad and was in possession of the left bank of the 
Rhine. The new principle of democracy was: No more 
conquests ! But when, after so many hundreds of years, 
the goal of the monarchy had been reached at last, great 
was the temptation not to let it slip away. A Revolu- 
tionist might say : Perish the colonies rather than a prin- 
ciple!: the colonies were rather shadowy in his mind, the 
Rhine was a reality. Some kind of a compromise could 
be effected. Conquest? No: but liberation: did not the 
tricolour bring freedom in its folds? Annexation? By 
no means : but the willing reunion of free peoples. There 
were enough sympathizers with France in the Rhineland 
to lend colour to such a plea; there was as yet too little 
national feeling in Germany to make a protest irresis- 
tible. The educated classes knew French : the common peo- 
ple had not taken the habit of expressing themselves. 
Thus the whole left bank of the Rhine became French, 
with surprizingly little opposition. 

There were a few men in 1795 who foresaw the dangers 
of such a policy. Carnot was among them : he would have 
been satisfied with a mere rectification of the frontiers. 
But the momentum of the monarchical tradition was too 
great : it seemed as though the hour of "manifest destiny" 
had come. Now every moderate conquest in the past had 
cost at least one war to confirm it. Even if the treaties 
of Basel had been signed by Austria and England, they 
would only have marked a truce. But the sudden exten- 
sion of France to the Rhine was no ordinary conquest: 
it was of such magnitude as to destroy the equilibrium of 

334 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

Western Europe. And although the Rhinelanders did 
not rebel against France, although they remained loyal 
to their new country until 1813, although they did not 
welcome the Germans as liberators even then, although 
they became Prussians with the greatest reluctance, still it 
was almost inconceivable that they should ever be thor- 
oughly assimilated by France. The case of Alsace is an 
exception. Alsace had become French a hundred and fifty 
years before, at the time of Germany's deepest humilia- 
tion and of France's most unquestioned supremacy; and 
yet, even in 1870, Alsace was not fully Frenchified. The 
Rhineland in French hands would have been a constant 
provocation to war. 

We hate the word "inevitable 55 : yet it seems hard to 
imagine how events could have taken a different turn. 
There was nothing permanent about the treaties of 1795 : 
ultimately France had to be reduced to her true "nat- 
ural" frontiers. "Natural" frontiers are the result of a 
complex compromise between physical geography, lin- 
guistic boundaries and national tradition. Such frontiers 
may change and do change: but, in old countries, they 
can not change suddenly. Dynasties may at a stroke 
widely expand their nominal domain: a Flemish Span- 
iard may control Austria. But as dynastic states become 
more truly national, their boundaries solidify. 

We are therefore led to the conclusion that the most 
sensational aspect of Napoleon's career, his military con- 
quests, was a brave show and nothing more. He left 
France smaller than he had found it: in 1815, she re- 
turned to her frontiers of 1792. In the meantime, French 
armies had entered Cairo, Vienna, Berlin, Madrid and 
Moscow; and foreign troops had bivouacked on the 
Champs-Elysees. But the result was scrupulously the 
same as if the government of Louis XVI had not declared 
war in 1792, or as if Carnot's wiser counsels had pre- 
vailed in 1795. Had no commander of genius been found, 
not even a Moreau or a Massena, the settlement might 
have taken place in 1797 instead of 1815. Had a wiser 
diplomat or a still greater war leader than Napoleon 

"The Supreme Classicist: Napoleon 385 

stepped on the scene, the day of reckoning might have 
been postponed by a few years, and France might have 
permanently retained a few more square miles of Ger- 
man land, such as the Saar valley. Napoleon himself was 
fond of alluding to "the nature of things"; here the na- 
ture of things was against him. He was a great gambler : 
but with the cards he had in his hand he could not win. 
This he ought to have known, had he possessed the in- 
fallible practical sense with which he is credited. 

The gigantic adventure failed in its essential purpose : 
to keep in French hands the leadership of Europe. The 
cost in human lives was real enough ; the spiritual cost, in 
the perpetuation of diffidence, hatred and brutality, was 
greater still. What do we find on the credit side? 

First of all, Glory: and who will be so craven as to 
count the deaths that go to the making of a great epic? 
This belongs to the "Legend," which we shall examine in 
its place. In sober historical terms, the military career 
of Napoleon justifies no such unqualified pride. Accord- 
ing to General Ballard (who considers the Emperor as 
"the greatest man that ever lived"), Napoleon waged 
twelve wars, won six and lost six. 1 Four times his armies 
were lost or shattered altogether: in Egypt, abandoned 
by him, his forces had to capitulate; in Russia, they 
melted away ; after Leipzig and after Waterloo, they be- 
came a mob. He entered the capitals of all his enemies, 
except England : but, for the first time in four centuries, 
Paris was captured by foreign troops. When a nation 
pays as dear for "glory" as France did in those days, it 
should be entitled to less equivocal and more durable re- 

It is said that Napoleon the Conqueror, disastrous to 
France, proved in the end a good European. As the 
"booted missionary" of the Revolution, he shattered 

3-Gen. C. R. Ballard: Napoleon, an Outline. Probably Gen. Ballard 
had these in mind: won: Italy 1796-97; 2nd Italian Campaign (Ma- 
rengo), 1800; Austro-Russian War (Austerlitz) 1805; Prussian War 
(lena) 1806; Russia (Friedland) 1807; Austria (Wagram) 1809. Lost: 
Egypt; Spain; Russia 1812; Germany (Leipzig) 1813; France 1814; 
Belgium (Waterloo) 1815. 

336 The Life and Death of an Heal 

wherever he went the survivals of feudalism ; he introduced 
modern principles, modern methods of administration, 
which were not lost when he fell ; he hammered Germany 
and Italy into nations. Are we sure that these benefits 
could have been imparted only by the brutal means of 
military conquest? Europe before 1789 much more so 
than in 1815 was culturally one. No nation, even if it 
had been so minded, could have kept its progress within 
its own boundaries. The Enlightenment, from England, 
had gained France, and from France, the whole conti- 
nent, not through wars, but in spite of wars. King Vol- 
taire needed no armies. The Encyclopaedia forced its way 
alone. The ideas of Beccaria spread without military 
force. Not Marlborough, Clive or Wolfe, but Mon- 
tesquieu and Voltaire, were the best apostles of England's 
political principles. Rousseau affected American thought 
without the assistance of a single soldier. It might rather 
be maintained that armed intervention checked the natural 
spread of liberal ideas. Napoleon controlled Naples and 
Spain: both countries, in the eighteenth century, had 
shown at least interesting velleities of reform ; both, in the 
early nineteenth, were noted for their blind love of reac- 
tion. A healthy national consciousness, on the basis of a 
common culture, was dawning in Germany at the end of 
the ancient regime. What Napoleon did was to warp 
such a growth, to give a tremendous impetus to Prussian- 
ism, to create to some extent a Germany in his own image, 
"through blood and iron." 


It is impossible to tell the story of modern Europe 
without Napoleon: yet Napoleon's strategy and his di- 
plomacy were not creative forces. They were the form, 
not the substance of history. To a smaller extent, this 
holds true of Napoleon's career as a civil ruler. In this 
field also, he was a sign rather than a power. His purely 
political institutions have not survived. They were a thin 
mask for his autocracy ; and, with much verbiage, his con- 

The Supreme Classicist: Napoleon 337 

stitutions contained but a single word: Napoleon. His 
imperial nobility never was taken very seriously. On the 
other hand, many of his reforms and institutions have 
proved lasting, and it may be said that he provided the 
framework of France's national life for a hundred years. 

But, just as the essential conditions of his military ca- 
reer were laid down for him as early as 1795, the lines of 
his civil activities were determined long before he came to 
power. What he attempted, what he partly achieved, was 
a compromise between traditions and principles. Such a 
compromise was under way, and was bound to come about 
as soon as the great crisis of 179394 was well over. Much 
that the Revolution had destroyed was destined never to 
rise again, because, even before 1789, it had a mere sem- 
blance of life. The revolution completed on August 4th 
1789 was final, because it registered a fact: Feudalism 
was dead. Had Louis XVIII come to the throne in 1799, 
he could not have restored that corpse to life ; moreover, 
with all his limitations, he was too sensible even to desire 
the resurrection of his ancient enemy. On the other hand, 
radical democracy never existed in France. If it prevailed 
in name under the Convention, it was in fact sacrificed to 
the most ruthless oligarchical dictatorship, a dictatorship 
justified by desperate need. When the need disappeared, 
democracy remained in abeyance. Had Robespierre him- 
self survived, he could have retained power only through 
compromise : a compromise that would sacrifice phantoms 
and recognize reality, L e. 9 the enormous preponderance 
of the middle class, mesocracy. 

This compromise took place under Napoleon, and bears 
the imprint of Napoleon's personality in the same way as 
the coinage of the time bears his imperial profile. The de- 
struction of ancient customs made new legislation neces- 
sary ; this new legislation was elaborated by the Revolu- 
tionary Assemblies ; the compilation of these new laws in 
convenient form were it only by some enterprising pub- 
lisher would have formed a Code; and the Code would 
in essentials have been the same, whether the ruler's name 
be Napoleon or Louis XVIII, Louis-Philippe of Orleans 

338 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

or Lafayette, Carnot or even Barras. The First Consul 
hastened the work of compilation, an obvious advantage, 
yet not invariably an unqualified advantage* He took ac- 
tive part in its composition, but chiefly in order to inject 
into it as much of his autocratic temper as he could. No 
King would have dared to be as frankly reactionary as 

Napoleon restored the "intendants" of the ancient 
regime, under the name of prefects, as the representa- 
tives of the central government; but he did not restore 
the local franchises which to some extent held in check 
and justified the power of the Intendants. Those French 
reformers who are now attempting to revive provincial 
autonomy under the new label of Regionalism might well 
curse Napoleon for his ruthless policy of centralization. 
But in this case again, Napoleon is not so much to praise 
and not so much to blame. He continued the Convention, 
which continued the Bourbons. "One faith, one law, one 
king" was the goal of the ancient regime; that France 
should be "one and indivisible" was a cardinal article of 
faith with the Revolutionists; "Federalism," as it was 
called in 1793, tending to weaken this unity and indivisi- 
bility, was detested as a crime against the nation. 

No institution created by Napoleon has been so im- 
mediately and so smoothly successful as the Legion of 
Honour : but the Legion of Honour was not a novel idea. 
It was the Order of St. Louis, founded by Louis XIV, 
and abolished in 1793, restored under a modern name. 
The monopolistic system of public education which he 
called the "University of France," on the contrary, was 
more original; but it never worked as Napoleon had 
planned, and was destined to remain an imposing f ayade. 

We find in his compromise with the Church, the Con- 
cordat, the most typical example of his method. His de- 
sire in all things was to obtain material results, and to ob- 
tain them quickly; about the means, he was not over- 
scrupulous; about distant consequences, he was indiffer- 
ent or blind. The transformation wrought by him in the 
Church situation was little short of magical: on the eve 

The Supreme Classicist: Napoleon 339 

of the Coup d'Etat, disorder and diffidence ; a few months 
later, discipline restored, persecution ended, good will es- 
tablished. But out of the chaos that prevailed under the 
Directoire, sheer weariness was already pointing the 
proper way out : liberty, tolerance. Napoleon artificially 
linked a non-sectarian State with the Churches, hoping 
thereby to turn the clergy into a spiritual police. He 
made free use of his favourite weapons : coercion, bribery, 
equivocation and deceit. The result was that the Con- 
cordat led to open conflict under his own reign, and to 
a century of petty wrangling thereafter. We can not for- 
get that, within ten years of this solemn covenant, the 
Pope was a prisoner and the Emperor excommunicated. 
He called the Concordat his worst mistake : yet, in the very 
notion of a Concordat, he was following Francis I ; in the 
Gallicanism of the "Organic Articles" which, of his own 
authority, he tagged on to the agreement, he was follow- 
ing Louis XIV and Bossuet ; in believing that Church and 
State could not be separated, he was following the Con- 
stituent Assembly. His lack of originality was his ex- 
cuse. Perhaps a weak, anonymous government alone 
could have adopted the negative solution which we now 
feel to be the wisest. 

At times Napoleon claimed that his mission was to con- 
solidate the Revolution; to trusted friends like Mole, he 
professed that his task was to curb and destroy that same 
Revolution. The latter is more in accordance with his 
temperament and training. His ideal was that of Louis 
XIV : but his method was that of the Convention. He was 
a Revolution or more strictly a Counter-Revolution 
in one person, an Anti-Jacobin in as great a hurry as 
the Jacobins themselves. Swiftness of decision and of ac- 
tion is admirable in the war game; in the normal life of 
a nation, haste can destroy, but not create. The aboli- 
tion of feudalism could be done in a few moments, like a 
long-delayed surgical operation : the reconstruction of the 
country needed a patience which Napoleon did not pos- 
sess. He regretted quaintly enough that he was not his 
own grandson: generations will not be skipped. His de- 

340 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

sire to create conservative institutions by a sudden Fiat 
is of the same kind as the action of a brand-new Ameri- 
can college, framing "traditions 55 which "would go into 
effect next Monday at eight o'clock. 55 His mushroom no- 
bility, his parvenu dynasty, were not even hot-house 
products : they were plants made out of wax and paper. 
In so far as he exerted his sovereign will against "the 
nature of things, 55 his work was but splendid make-be- 
lieve; and the "nature of things 55 did not need a Bona- 

We can not repeat too emphatically that this view of 
Napoleon's career as in all essentials predetermined ^ is 
neither hostile nor favourable to the hero. If it robs him 
of credit for miraculous achievements, it absolves him 
also of many heavy responsibilities. Constant wars, ex- 
cessive centralization, autocracy, are the worst charges 
against him: but in these respects, he acted only like the 
Committee of Public Safety a Committee of One; and 
the Committee of Public Safety had acted like a collec- 
tive Louis XIV. These considerations are not a criticism 
of his personal ability: he was the most efficient dictator 
in history, until Mussolini appeared. They are not even 
a condemnation of dictatorship : if it remains true to its 
original spirit in ancient Rome, it may be a precious in- 
strument in a sudden and desperate emergency. What 
we condemn is dictatorship as a permanent method of 
government, dictatorship attempting to turn itself into a 
regime and a tradition. 


If we examine without partizanship Napoleon the man, 
we find him neither lovable nor execrable. He was ruth- 
less : a professional soldier, and in times of revolution, can 
not be expected to be squeamish; and, in his own words, 
a hundred thousand lives meant little to him, so long as 
he had his steady "income 55 of cannon fodder. Yet he 
never was gratuitously, fiendishly cruel. The judicial 
murder of the Duke of Enghien was "worse than a crime: 

Tlie Supreme Classicist: Napoleon 341 

a blunder" : but he honestly thought that such an act of 
intimidation was needed. He was not truthful : in all his 
negotiations, and particularly in those with the Spanish 
Bourbons and with Alexander of Russia, he stooped to 
equivocation and prevarication. But in those days so 
radically different from ours every statesman was ex- 
pected to lie for his country. He was not sincere: even 
when he did not lie, he loved to pose. Alfred de Vigny 
ascribed to Pope Pius VII the words that sum up so much 
of Napoleon*s character: "Commediante! Tragediante!"i 
and a British historian bluntly calls him "a play actor, 
and a vulgar one at that. 55 But his great predecessor 
Louis XIV was not free from theatricality, and a popular 
idol can not afford to despise his own histrionic gifts. 

He shared the common feelings of mankind: he was a 
good son, a fairly good brother, a tolerable husband as 
crowned husbands go and as good a father as the aver- 
age man. He sacrificed public interests to his Corsican 
clannishness, when he distributed Kingdoms among his 
relatives. But he hoped thereby to buttress his throne, 
and he showed very little brotherly tenderness for Lucien, 
Louis or Jerome, when their desires or interests did not 
coincide with his own. The love of the iron man for his 
infant son has brought tears to many sympathetic eyes : 
as a matter of fact, it was the heir to the Empire rather 
than the little human soul that he cherished in the King 
of Rome. He did not, as Louis XV had done, allow his 
lust to interfere with the business of the State : but there 
was in some of his affairs a trooper-like brutality which 
pertained to the soldier of fortune rather than to the na- 
tional hero. In business matters, he was honest, so long 
as honesty seemed the best policy. He did not like to be 
robbed beyond reason ; and when he "became the State, 55 
he saw to it that the State was getting good value for its 
money. In his very first campaign, he curbed the acquisi- 
tive propensities of the army contractors. He allowed his 
generals, like Massena, to loot only in the measure in 
which it placed them at his mercy. He went to Italy 
penniless: on his pay as a Republican general, he man- 

342 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

aged to buy a house in the rue Chantereine, a chateau at 
Maimaison, and to keep extravagant Josephine in a semi- 
regal state. 

But a superman is not supposed to be a copybook 
moralist; he need not even be supremely intelligent in 
fields not his own. In many realms. Napoleon's mind was 
on a level with his heart. Whenever he speaks of religion* 
whether with a touch of Oriental fatalism, or with a 
dab of Italian superstition, or like a pure Voltairean, 
half theist, half sceptic, or again like a disciple of Rous- 
seau's Savoyard Vicar, his thoughts are second-hand, 
slightly soiled and frayed. They are the thoughts that 
a busy adventurer would pick up here and there, in the 
lull of serious business. His one contribution to philoso- 
phy is his soldierly dread of independent thought, 
which he was pleased to dub "Ideology." Ideologists 
ought to be shot! In science, he was able to appreciate 
practical contributions like Humphry Davy's miners' 
lamp ; but he did not understand Fulton. He encouraged 
studies which could not conceivably create a danger for 
the established order: but he publicly insulted Lamarck, 
the most original thinker of the time. In art, his taste 
inclined to the richly substantial. If the Empire Style 
still possesses undeniable merits, it is because its ultra- 
classical stiffness was relieved by a delicacy of execution 
inherited from the age of Louis XVI. When the Louis- 
Seize influence finally vanished, whilst Empire heaviness 
survived, we had the mahogany abominations of the Louis- 
Philippe era. And indeed there is a closer kinship than 
is commonly imagined between the tastes and principles of 
the two eclectic sovereigns, the two monarchs issued out 
of the Revolution, the two "Best of Republics," the Sol- 
dier-Emperor and the Citizen-King. 

In literature, he was able to appreciate Corneille, the 
most obvious of the classics; he was taken in with the 
whole continent by the vogue of "Ossian" ; and he liked 
Chateaubriand, because his Spirit of Christianity served 
the same cause as the Concordat. But he also shared the 
common admiration for the inane versifier Delille. 

The Supreme Classicist: Napoleon 343 

In offering these obvious remarks, we are not attempt- 
ing to belittle Napoleon, but only to define him. We do 
not expect our modern Kings, Presidents or Generals to 
be arbiters in matters of culture : indeed the most notable 
"artistic 55 Emperors, Nero and William II, made the 
world yearn for sovereigns who knew their proper place 
in the realm of the spirit. Why should Napoleon be 
judged by an absurdly exacting standard? Culture was 
not his business. But it is of some importance to dispose 
of the superstition that he was a miracle of nature, a 
universal genius, a Leonardo da Vinci on the throne. We 
wonder how Leonardo would have fared as an Emperor? 

In all these respects, therefore. Napoleon, as was to be 
expected, was not above mediocrity; and it was because 
he was substantially the Average Man that he has been 
idolized by the average man. Mediocrity is not incom- 
patible with success; indeed, it is a necessary ingredient 
in success; but it will not create success. There were 
points in which Napoleon was supreme, and perhaps 
unique; and we thoroughly agree with M. de la Palisse 
that these points were his efficiency and liis ambition. 

Napoleon was trained as a soldier, and never was 
anything else. His efficiency is that of the military com- 
mander, who constantly has to meet lif e-and-death emer- 
gencies. The means may be rough, brutal, unphilosoph- 
ical, costly in the end : but they must work. For detecting 
the pressing need and devising in a flash the immedi- 
ate remedy, Napoleon's intellect was preternaturally keen. 
In a crisis war, revolution, cataclysm the military or 
dictatorial method is indispensable. If a building in the 
path of a conflagration has to be dynamited, you can not 
have it condemned by due process of law. In days of 
"normalcy," the army regime is singularly depressing. 
Of the larger efficiency that will allow for experiments, 
initiative and growth, Napoleon I had a lesser share than 
his nephew Napoleon III. 

Napoleon's ambition inevitably calls for the hackneyed 
adjective "boundless." But the literal truth of this com- 
monplace is worth emphasizing. Every other leader in 

344 The Life and Death of an Ideal 

the Revolution had his ambition checked at some point by 
some loyalty, some diffidence or some fear: it might be a 
principle, a prejudice, a tradition, or simply common- 
sense. Napoleon alone was absolutely free. He was not 
a Frenchman; between him and the King, there was no 
immemorial and sacred tie ; the French nobles had scoffed 
at him, and he was not in honour bound to their cause. 
But he was not a man of the people. He was not a be- 
liever, and he was not a "philosopher." Hoche or Carnot 
might hesitate : there was nothing to halt him. 

His self-confidence increased with achievement, and 
with the confidence of others. It was his greatest asset 
never to doubt his own ability: he silenced self-criticism 
as successfully as the Hamlets and the Amiels of this world 
cultivate it. He could never have uttered the sacramental 
words : Domine, non sum dignusl 

No inner check: the word impossible , which is very 
French, does not exist in the Napoleonic vocabulary. No 
outer check : a military commander expects passive obedi- 
ence. The result is magnificent, but neither safe nor sane. 
In practical details, the matchless realism of Napoleon's 
mind acted as a guide for his imagination. When he 
dreamed of vast schemes, he was literally unbalanced. In 
this respect, he differed widely from Louis XIV and from 
Bismarck, who, like himself, succeeded in imposing their 
supremacy upon Europe. Both the Grand Monarch and 
the Iron Chancellor had some sense of limitations, of pos- 
sibilities. They knew that "trop est trop" Their ambi- 
tions were wrong, and in time had to be atoned for : still 
there was in their plans some degree of plausibility. The 
Empire, on the contrary, was a mad venture. Contempo- 
raries knew it, both in France and abroad. The huge 
machine made itself tragically felt at times : but it never 
was accepted in good earnest. England and Metternich 
did not believe in that phantasmagory ; neither did Tal- 
leyrand, who knew it from within; neither did Madame 
Letizia, Napoleon's mother, who expressed the feelings of 
his best friends when she said : "If only it would last !" 

It is that element of Oriental mirage, of romanticism, 

The Supreme Classicist: Napoleon 345 

of actual insanity, that gives the Imperial gamble its 
magic glamour. Not Napoleon's efficiency: no one is 
truly fascinated by a perfect bureaucrat or a martinet. 
His efficiency merely added a touch of realism to a wild 
fairy tale, and made it almost credible. This is an ar- 
tistic device which is invariably effective : we find that kind 
of appeal in Balzac's Peau de Chagrin* or in Wells's War 
of the Worlds. 


Thus we are led from Napoleon's career and from his 
personality to his Legend. Upon that great theme we 
shall touch very briefly, for it goes beyond the scope of 
this book. The "Legend" did not actually begin until 
Napoleon's second exile, perhaps not until his death. And 
it was the product, not of the classical spirit, which is our 
subject, but of Romanticism. Napoleon became a Myth, 
like Faust, Don Juan and Prometheus. Peres and 
Whately, in their clever skits casting "historic doubts 35 
on the actual existence of Napoleon, were nearer the truth 
than they knew. A fabulous Napoleon was born in their 

It may seem strange that the man whom we called the 
Supreme Classicist should become the hero of Roman- 
ticism. The two elements were blended in his career, in 
his style and in his character. He was a Latin and a man 
of the eighteenth century: his culture was classical. He 
carried the classical spirit to its logical consequences. The 
Renaissance had been the re-discovery of antiquity: the 
Empire was a complete return to antiquity. There were 
still feudal elements in the monarchy of Louis XIV: Na- 
poleon goes back to Caesar and Augustus. In the build- 
ings of the sixteenth and even of the seventeenth centuries, 
traces of medieval traditions may be found: Napoleon's 
monuments are Roman pastiches pure and simple. He 
was the representative of the essential classical quality, 
discipline. He wanted society to form in proper ranks 
and files, like the couplets of Boileau. The logical, stand- 

346 Tiie Life and Death of an Ideal 

ardlzed, hierarchical world that he wanted to shape was 
a classical world. 

But in this disciplined Europe, he alone was free. All 
other personalities repressed, his own was unchecked. 
Whilst every one had to perform his task at his appointed 
place. Napoleon could gamble his soul against fate. So 
the solitary figure at the apex of this classical edifice was 
the Romantic ideal incarnate : adventure, gigantic dreams, 
the Ego challenging destiny, and the world well lost. 


Revised 1965 by Henri Peyre 

The aim of these notes, as of the whole book, is not to be ex- 
haustive, but to point out the next step the most easily available 
and clearest account of the subject, and especially the bibliographic 
instruments for further investigation. 

Works provided with bibliographies are marked: BibL 

Illustrated works are marked: 111. 

As readers interested in French civilization may be presumed to 
have a reading knowledge of French, the works listed in the first 
eleven divisions are mostly in French. A brief list of works in English 
is appended as Section XII. 

I. Bibliographies. 

II. Iconography. 

III. General History of Civilization. 

IV. Geography. 

V. Political History. 

VI. Economic History. 

VII. History of Society. 

VIII. History of Religion. 

IX. History of Art. 

^5L History of Literature, Science, and Philosophy. 

XI. Miscellaneous. 

XII. Selected List in English. 


H. Hauser, E. Bourgeois, L. Andre: Les Sources de I'Histoire de 
France, XVI-XVHeme Sieeles, 9 vols. Paris, Picard, 1906-1926. 

David Cabeen and Jules Brody (editors) : A Critical Bibliography of 
French Literature. Volume 3. The Seventeenth Century. Syra- 
cuse University Press, 1961. 


348 Bibliography 

Cf. Bibliographical note to each chapter in Lavisse: Histoire de 

France, listed under HI. 
Bibliographies (pp. 765-917) to volume 5, The Age of Louis XIV of 

The Cambridge Modern History, New York, Macmilkn, 1908. 


Armand Bayot: series of illustrative albums: Fiammarion, Paris. 
Louis XIV, 1909; De la Regence a la Revolution, 1906; La Revo- 
lution Frangaise, 1896; Napoleon, 1908. 

G. Hanotaux (editor) : Histoire de la Nation Frangaise, 15 vols. Paris, 
Plon Nourrit. HI. All the different aspects of French civilization 
are presented in separate volumes, most of which will be found 
listed below. 

E. Lavisse (editor) : Histoire de France Illustree, Tomes V to IX (2 
vols. to a tome) . Paris, Hachette, 1903 seq. Bibl., 111. All aspects 
of French civilization are also presented; division in periods, not 
in special histories. Cf . particularly E. Lavisse's own contribution, 
Louis XIV, in VH, i; VH, ii; and VIII, i. 

Histoire de France Contemporaine, Vols. I, II, III, Revolution and 
Empire. Paris, Hachette, 1920-1921. Bibl., HI. A continuation 
of the above. . 

E. Levasseur: Histoire des Classes ouvrieres, etc., listed under Eco- 
nomic History, is almost a complete history of civilization. 


P Vidal de Lablache: Tableau de la Geographie de la France, in E. 

Lavisse, Histoire de France, Li. Paris, Hachette, 1903-1920. 111. 

Jean Brunhes: Geographie Humaine de la France. Paris, Plon, 1920. 


Jean Brunhes et P. Deifontaines: Geographie Politique et Econo- 
mique. Paris, Plon, 1926. 111. These form Vols. I and II of 
Hanotaux's Nation Frangaise. 

P. Jousset: La France, Geographie Illustree, 2 vols. Paris, Larousse, 
1912-1920. Profusely illustrated. 


E. Lavisse (editor) : Histoire de France Illustree. Cf . under I. The 

best general work of reference. Bibl., 111. 
Louis Madelin: Histoire Politique, 1515-1804.. Paris, Plon, 1924. 111. 

In Hanotaux: Nation Frangaise. Thoughtful and scholarly. 
Jacques Bainville: Histoire de France (separately and in Heur et Mai- 

heur des Franc, ais) . Paris, Nouvelle Librairie Nationale, 1924. 

Bibliography 349 

Royalist, but moderate. Once very successful in France. 

Edmond Preclin and Victor Tapie: Le XVll e siecle. Paris, Presses 
Universitaires, 1943. Discusses original sources and leads to 
further work; for advanced students and scholars. 

G. Duby and R. Mandrou: Histoire de la Civilisation frangaise, 
XVll e ~XX e siecles. Paris, Armand Colin, 1958. 

R. Mandrou: Introduction a la France Tnoderne. Essai de Psychologic 
historique. 1500-1640. Paris, Albin Michel, 1961. A history of 
the sensibility of people, done in the spirit of Lucien Febvre. 

Albert Guerard: France, A Modern History. Ann Arbor, University of 
Michigan Press, 1959. 

David Ogg: Europe in the Seventeenth Century. London, Adam and 
Charles Black, 1948 (First edition, 1925) . The best general his- 
tory of the age, with several chapters devoted to France. 


E. Levasseur: Histoire des Classes Ouvrieres et de I* Industrie en 
France avant 1789, 2 vols. Paris, Rousseau, 19001901. Remains 
important. Bibliography separately, 1903. 

E. Levasseur: Histoire du Commerce de la France, Tome I: Avant 
1789. Paris, Rousseau, 1911. 

G. d'Avenel: Histoire Economique de la Propriete, des Salaires, des 
Denrees et de tous les Prix en general, 6 vols. Paris, Leroux. 
(Vicomte d'Avenel has published a number of popular works 
based on his Histoire Economique.} 

H. See: U Evolution Commerciale et Industrielle de la France sous 
I'Ancien Regime. Paris, Giard, 1925. Important Bibl. 

Germain Martin: Histoire Economique et Financiere. Paris, Plon, 
1927. In Hanotaux: Nation Frangaise. El. 

Maxime Leroy: Histoire des I dees sociales en France. 1. De Montes- 
quieu a Robespierre. Paris, Gallimard, 1946. 


V. du Bled: La Societe Frangaise du XV Verne Siecle au XX erne Siecle , 

9 series. Paris, Perrin, 1903; 1913. 
P. Bonnefon: La Societe Frangaise du XVlleme Siecle. Paris, Colin, 

La Societe Frangaise du XVllIeme Siecle. Paris, Colin, 1914. 

(Lectures extraites des Memoires et Correspondances.) 
Louis Ducros: La Societe Frangaise au XVllIeme Siecle, d'apres les 

Memoires et Correspondances du Temps. Paris, Hatier, 192. 

H. See: La Vie Economique et les Classes Sociales en France au 

XVllIeme Siecle. Paris, Alcan, 1924. Bibl. 

350 Bibliography 

La France Economique et Sodale au XVII I erne Siede. A model 

of condensation. Paris, Colin, 1925. Bibl. 
M. Magendie: La Politesse Mondaine, etc., au XVIIeme Siede, % 

vols. Paris, Alcan, 1925. Important Bibl., El. 

H. Carre: La France sous Louis XV. Paris, Quantin, 1891. Bibl., El. 
F. Funck-Brentano: L'Anden Regime. Paris, Artheme Fayard, 1926. 

Bibl. A very readable and substantial survey. 

Edmond and Jules de Goncourt were among the pioneers of Social 
History, and their numerous works on the eighteenth century still 
provide fascinating reading. 
Andre Ducasse: Le XVIl e siede. Pages Choisies des Memorialistes. 

Paris, Bordas, 1946. An original choice of extracts from little 

known memoirs of the time. 
Erich Auerbach: "La Cour et la Ville," in Scenes from the Drama of 

European Literature, New York, Meridian Books, 1959. First 

published in German and here translated into English. Important 

as a study of the public to which literature was addressed. 
Joseph Aynard: La Bourgeoisie franqaise. Essai de Psychologie. Paris, 

Perrin, 1934. 

Rene Bray: La Predosite et les Predeux. Paris, Albin Michel, 1948. 
Carl J. Friedrich: The Age of the Baroque. 1610-1660. New York, 

Harper Torchbooks, 1962 (First published by Harper in 1952) . 
Felix Gaiffe: L'Envers du Grand Siede. Paris, Albin Michel, 1924. 
W. H. Lewis: The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV. 

New York, Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957 (First published by 

William Sloane, 1953) . 
Philippe Sagnac: La Formation de la Sodete fran$aise. Paris, Presses 

Universitaires. 2 vols. 1945. 
Victor L. Tapie: Baroque et Classidsme. Paris, Plon, 1957. 


Georges Goyau: Histoire Religieuse. Paris, Plon, 1922. 111. In Hano- 

taux: Nation Frangaise. Catholic. 
Henri Bremond: Histoire Litteraire du Sentiment Religieux en France 

depuis la fin des Guerres de Religion jusqu'a nos jours. Catholic. 

11 vols. Paris, Bloud et Gay, 1924-1932. 
Sainte-Beuve: Port-Royal (1840-1848; revised 1867) , 7 vrLa. Paris, 

Hachette, 1912. Remains essential. 
On the Church and the Revolution, cf. principally: 
A. Debidour: Histoire des Rapports de I'Eglise et de I'Etat en France 

de 1789 a 1870. Paris, Alcan, 1898. Anticlerical. 
Bernard Amoudru: Le Sens religieux du Grand Siede. Paris, Editions 

de la Revue des Jeunes, 1946. 

Henri Busson: Le Religion des Classiques. Paris, Presses Universi- 
taires, 1948. Very thorough and contains new material. 

Bibliography 351 

Paul Hazard: The European Mind: the critical years, 1680-1715. 

Translation of La Crise de la Conscience Europeenne. New 

Haven, Yale University Press, 1953. 
Robert Palmer: Catholics and Unbelievers in XVIIIth Century 

France. Princeton University Press, 1939. 
J. Spink: French Free-Thought from Gassendi to Moliere. London, 

The AtHone Press, 1960. 
P. de la Gorce: Histoire Religieuse de la Revolution Frangaise. Paris, 

3 vols., 1909-1921. Catholic. 
Also A. Aulard and Mathiez. 

Rene Pomeau: La Religion de Voltaire. Paris, Nizet, 1956. 
Leon Emery: Rousseau I'annondateur. Lyon, Editions des Cahiers 

Hbres, no date. 
Robert Mauzi: L'Idee du bonheur au XVIII 6 siecle. Paris, Armand 

Colin, 1960. 


Louis Hourticq: Histoire Generale de I 9 Art: France. Paris, Hachette, 
1914. BibL, HI. A perfect introduction; admirably written, pro- 
fusely illustrated, useful bibliographies. 

Andre Michel (editor) : Histoire de I' Art, 17 vols. (8 tomes) . Paris, 
Colin, 1906 seq. A general history; long chapters devoted to 
French art, particularly IV, ii; V, ii; VII, i, ii. HI. 

L. Gillet: Histoire des Arts. Paris, Plon, 1922. HI. In Hanotaux: 
Nation Frangaise. 

S. Rocheblave: L'Art et le Gout en France de 1600 a 1900. Paris, 
Colin, 1923. 111. A brief, but illuminating survey. 

Bernard Champigneulle: L'Age classique de la musique jrangaise. 
Paris, Aubier, 1946. 

Lucien Corpechot: Pares et Jar dins de France. Les Jar dins de I' intel- 
ligence. Paris, Plon, 1937. 

Rene Crozet: La Vie artistique en France au XVII s siecle. Paris, 
Presses Universitaires, 1954. 

Louis Hautecoeur: Histoire de I' Art. Vol. 2. De la realite a la beaute. 
Paris, Flammarion, 1959. 


J. Bedier et P. Hazard (editors) : Histoire de la Litterature Frangaise 
Illustree, 2 vols. Paris, Larousse, 1923. BibL, HI. 

F. Brunetiere: Histoire de la Litterature Frangaise Classique, 4 vols. 
Paris, Delagrave, 1904-1917. Completed by Brunetiere's friends. 
Classicism expounded by its most thorough-going modern cham- 

352 Bibliography 

E. Faguet: Etudes Litteraires, XVI-XVlI-XVIUemes Siecles, S vols. 

Paris. Lecene Oudin; frequently reprinted. Stimulating. Hostile 

to eighteenth century. 
G. Lanson: Histoire lllustree de la Litterature Frangaise, 2 vols. Paris, 

Hachette, 1923. Bibl., HI. The one-volume edition, Hachette, 

has been an indispensable vade-mecum to students since 1894. 
L. Petit de_Julleville (editor) : Histoire de la Langue et de la Littera- 
ture Frangaise des Origines a 1900, 8 vols. Paris, Colin (Vols. Ill, 

IV, V, VI, VII: 1897-1899) . Bibl., El. 
Antoine Adam: Histoire de la Litterature frangaise au XVll e siecle. 

Paris, Domat, 1948-56. 5 vols. The most recent and most 

thorough literary history of the age. 

Paul Benichou: Morales du Grand Siecle. Paris, Gallimard, 1948. 
E. B. O. Borgerhoff: The Freedom of French Classicism. Princeton 

University Press, 1950. 

Emile Henriot: Dix-Septieme Siecle. Paris, Albin Michel, 1958. 2 vols. 
William G. Moore: Holier e, a New Criticism. Oxford, Clarendon 

Press, 1949. 
Raoul Morgay and Pierre Sage: Le Preclassicisme. Paris, Del Ducca, 

Henri Peyre: Literature and Sincerity. Yale University Press, 1963. 

On the notion of sincerity in Moliere, Marivaux, Diderot, 

Qu'est-ce que le Classicisme? Paris, Nizet, 1964. Earlier editions in 

1932, 1943. 
Jean Tortel: Le Preclassicisme frangais. Paris, Cahiers du Sud, 1952. 


Ferdinand Brunot: Histoire de la Langue Frangaise des Origines a 
1900, t. I-IX. Paris, Colin, 1905-1927 (in course of publication) . 
Bibl. A monumental History of Civilization through language. 


Herbert Butterfield: The Origins of Modern Science. New York, Mac- 

millan, 1956. 
Michel Foucault: Folie et Deraison. Histoire de la Folie a I' Age das- 

sique. Paris, Plon, 1961. 
James E. King: Science and Rationalism in the Government of Louis 

XIV. Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1949. 
S. F. Mason: Main Currents of Scientific Thought. New York, Henry 

Schuman, 1953. 

Histoire de la Science. Encyclopedic de la Pleiade. Paris, Galli- 
mard, 1957. Admirably up to date and very readable survey 
of nearly 2000 pages. 

Bibliography 353 


Works referred or alluded to In this volume on account of their doc- 
trinal importance. 

Louis Bertrand: Lows XIV. Paris, Artheme Fayard, 1923. Louis the 
Great as the national hero; sensational success. New Illustrated 

Louis Dimier: Les Prejuges Ennemis de I'Histoire de France. Paris, 
Nouvelle Librairie Nationale, 1917. Conservative, paradoxical, 

Charles Maurras: Enquete sur la Monarchic. Paris, Nouvelle Librairie 
Nationale, 1909. The intellectual leader of Neo-Royalism, Posi- 
tivistic Catholicism, and Classicism. 

Jules Michelet: Histoire de France: Revolution, 1847-53, 7 vols. 
Renaissance et Temps Modemes, 185567, 11 vols. New Edition. 
Paris, Flammarion, 1893-99. 

A. Sorel: L 3 Europe et la Revolution Frangaise, 8 vols. Paris, Plon, 
1885-1904. Vol. I, Les Mceurs Politiques et les Traditions, a re- 
markable picture of the diplomatic Ancient Regime. Thesis: con- 
tinuity of tradition reasserting itself through Revolution and 

H. Taine: Les Origines de la France Contemporaine, 6 vols. New edi- 
tion, 11 vols. Paris, Hachette, 1876-1893. Systematic, passion- 
ate, powerful. 

A. de Tocqueville: UAncien Regime et la Revolution. Paris, Levy, 
1856. A classic of philosophical history. 


Section III. Arthur Tilley, editor: Modern France, a Companion to 
French Studies. Cambridge, University Press, 1922. BibL, 111. 
Only the chapter on Architecture is illustrated. A massive com- 
pendium by excellent authorities. 

Section V. G. W. Kitchin: A History of France, 3 vols. Oxford, 
Clarendon Press, 1896-1906. (Revised edition.) Bibl. Vol. II: 
1453-1624; Vol. Ill: 1624-1793. Solid. 

V. W. Stearns Davis: A History of France. New York, Boston, 
Houghton Mifflin, 1919. BibL, 111. A workable adaptation of a 
good French manual. 

V. The National History of France. London, Heinemann. 

1. Louis Batiffol: The Century of Renaissance, 1921. BibL 

2. Jacques Boulenger: The Seventeenth Century, 1920. Bibl. 

3. Casimir Stryienski: The Eighteenth Century, 1916 (dry) . BibL 

4. Louis Madelin: The French Revolution, 1916. Notable. 

A good series; sponsored by J. C. Bodley; the French versions 
were awarded prizes by two academies. 

354 Bibliography 

V. Paul Wiriatli: Article France (Political History) in Britannica. 

By one of the best disciples of E. Lavisse. 

Section VH. Emile Bourgeois, tr. by Mrs. Cashel Hoey: France un- 
der Louis XIV: its art and its ideas. New York, Scribner, 1897. 

HI. A very handsome volume. 
VII. Cecile Hugon: Social France in the XVIIth century. London 

and New York, Macmillan, 1911. Brief. Bibl., El. 
VII. Paul Lacroix: The XVIIIth Century. New York, Scribner, 1876. 

LI. By the well-known polygraph "Bibliophile Jacob." 
VH. Helene Clergue: The Salon: a study of French Society and Per- 
sonalities in the XVIIIth century. New York, Putnam, 1907. 

HI. A very readable introduction. 
Section VIII. A H. Galton: Church and State in France. London, 

Arnold, 1907. Bibl. Very brief on pre-revolutionary period. 

VHI. A. Aulard: Christianity and the French Revolution. Boston, 

Little, Brown, 1927. Rather disappointing from "the greatest 

living authority" on the Revolution. 
Section X. C. H. C. Wright: A History of French Literature. Oxford 

University Press, new edition, 1925. Bibl. Thorough. 
X. W. A. Nitze and E. P. Dargan: A History of French Literature. 

New York, H. Holt, 1927 (revised edition) . Bibl., 111. Excellent. 
X. L. Levy-Bruhl: History of Modern Philosophy in France. Chicago, 

Open Court, 1899. Bibl. 

X. G. Saintsbury's French Literature is emphatically not recom- 


Section XI. Arthur Young: Travels in France, etc., 1787-88-89. BibL 
Conveniently in Everyman's Library, 1915. 

XI. Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France. Oxford, 
Clarendon Press, 1898. 

XI. Thomas Carlyle: The French Revolution (1837) , edited by J. 
Holland Rose, 3 vols. London, Bell, 1913. Bonn's Popular Library. 

XI. G. Lytton Strachey: Books and Characters (Racine, Mme. du 
Deffand, Voltaire, Rousseau) . London, Chatto, 1922. The di- 
vinely appointed interpreter of classical France to the English- 
reading world. 

XL Mary Duclaux (Mary Robinson) : A Short History of France. 
Tenuous as history, but full of sympathy and charm. 

Basil Wiley: The Seventeenth Century Background. New York, 
Doubleday Anchor Books, First edition, 1934. 

Vincent Cronin: Louis XIV. London, Collins, 1964. A lively and 
popular portrayal of the Sun King. 

Henri Peyre: The Age of Reason. Illustrated volume in the series, The 
Ages of Man. New York, Time-Life Books, 1965. 

Peter Gay: The Age of Enlightenment. Illustrated volume in the 
series, The Ages of Man. New York, Time-Life Books, 1965. 



(CHARLES Vffi, 1483-1498) 

Marries Anne, Duchess of Brittany, 
Rapid conquest and immediate loss of Kingdom of Naples. 
Charles VIII dies of accident at Amboise, and is succeeded 
by distant cousin, Louis of Orleans. 


1498-1515. LOUIS XII, "Father of the People," marries Anne of 
Brittany; Italian expeditions; claims to Milan and 
Naples. Checked by Holy League (Pope, Aragon, 
Venice, joined later by England and Maximilian, 

1513. Peace with the Pope, Spain, 

1514. The Emperor and England. 


1515-1547. FRANCIS! 

1515. Reconquers Milan by brilliant victory of Marignano over 

the Swiss. 

1516. Perpetual peace (Fribourg) with the Swiss, in force until 

the Revolution. 

1516. Concordat with the Pope, in force until the Revolution; 

supersedes the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, 1438. 

1517. Luther nails his ninety-five propositions at Wittenberg, 

1519. Charles V elected German Emperor against Francis I. 

1520. Luther burns Papal Bull and is excommunicated. 
1520. Meeting of Francis I and Henry Vm of England near 

Calais (Camp of the Cloth of Gold). 


1521-1526. First War; treason of Charles of Bourbon, Constable. 

1525. Francis I defeated and captured at Pavia. 

1526. Treaty of Madrid, renouncing Italian claims, overlord- 

ship of Flanders and Artolc, and ceding Burgundy, 
1527-1529. Treaty of Madrid broken, war renewed. Peace of Cam- 

brai; cession of Burgundy withdrawn. 
1529. Definite beginning of religious persecution; Louis de 

Berquin executed. 



Chronological Summary 

1530. Beginnings of College de France. 

Clement Marot: Adolescence Clementine. 

Rabelais: Chroniques Gargantuines. 

Robert Estieime: Thesaurus Lingua Latinm. 

Rabelais: Pantagruel (later, Book II). 

Sharp religious crisis (Affair of the Placards; Cop). 

Jesuits founded by Ignatius Loyola. 

Rabelais: Gargantua (later becomes Book I). 

Calvin: Christian Institute (in Latin). 

Claims to Milan renewed; Third War; Francis I allied 

with Soliman; truce of Nice, on the basis of possession. 
Great Ordinance of Villers-Cotterets (almost a code). 
Charles V, on his way to Ghent, which had rebelled, 

crosses France and is received with great honours. 
Jesuits approved by Pope. 
Calvin: Christian Institute (in French). 
Fourth War; France allied with Cleves and Soliman; 

Charles V with Henry VIII. 
Peace of Crespy-en-Valois; Italy given up, Burgundy re- 


Council of Trent; Catholic Reformation. 
Rabelais: Book HI. 
Francis I succeeded by his son. 
HENRY II. (Diana of Poictiers Growing influence of 

the Lorraine-Guise family.) 
Prohibition of mystery and miracle plays. 
La Boetie; Discourse on Voluntary Servitude. 
Du Bellay : Defence and Illustration of the French Language. 
Du Bellay and Ronsard begin their careers as poets. 
Taking advantage of religious difficulties in Germany, 

France annexes the three Bishoprics, Metz, Toul, and 

Verdun. Provisional confirmation of conquest by truce 

of Vaucelles. 

Jodelle: Cleopdtre, classical tragedy. 
Charles V abdicates. War continues with. Spain and 


French sharply defeated at St. Quentin. 
Frangois de Guise reconquers Calais. 
Peace of Cateau-Camfcresis; Italy lost, three Bishoprics 

and Calais retained. 
Amyot: translation of Plutarch. 
Henry II wounded to death in a tournament. 
RELIGIOUS WARS, 1560-1598. 
1559-1560. FRANCIS II, sixteen years old, son of Henry II and 

Catherine de* Medici; husband of Mary Stuart. Rivalry 

between Guises and Montmorency; the nephews of 

Montmorency, Coligny, CMtillon, d'Andelot become 

leaders of Huguenots, in alliance with Bourbon-Navarre. 













1548 (?). 
1 549. 





Chronological Summary 


1560. Conspiracy of Amboise; Huguenots try to rescue King 

from influence of Guises; thwarted and rigorously 

1560-1574. CHARLES IX, ten years old, brother of Francis BL 

1562. Rabelais's Fifth Book; largely apocryphal. 

1560-1572. First three religious wars; really a single war with brief 
and insincere truces. Indecisive. La Rochelle, Cognac, 
Montauban and La Charite officially turned over to 
Huguenots; Henry of Navarre to marry Marguerite of 
Valois, sister of the King. 

1572. Night of St. Bartholomew, August 23; massacre of 


1572. Ronsard: Frandade. 

1572. Henry Estienne: Thesaurus Lingua Greece. 

1573. Fourth War: ends in a compromise. 

157*4-1589. HENRY HI, brother of Charles IX; a degenerate. 
Fifth War, led on the Huguenot side by Henry of Na- 
varre; concessions granted to Protestants. The Ultra 
Catholics, dissatisfied, form the Holy Catholic League, 

1576. under the leadership of the Guises, and in alliance with 

1576-1578. Bodin: The Republic. 

1577. Sixth War; the Huguenots, defeated, again secure favour- 

able terms, the King being afraid of the ascendancy of 
the Guises. 

1577. d'Aubigne begins his Tragics, published 1616. 

1578. H. Estienne: Dialogue of the New Italianized French Lan- 


1579. Du Bartas: The Week, religious epic. 

1580. Seventh War. 

1580-1588. Montaigne's Essays (Gournay edition, 1595). 

1585-1589. Eighth War, or War of the Three Henrys: Henry HI, 
Henry of Navarre, Henry of Guise. Paris controlled 
by the League, L e., by H. de Guise; Kong flees to Blois. 

1588. States General at Blois; Henry of Guise and his brother 

the Cardinal murdered; Mayenne, their brother, be- 
comes leader of the League. 

1589. Henry III and Henry of Navarre jointly before Paris 

(St. Cloud) ; Henry 111 assassinated by a monk. 
1589-1789-1830. HOUSE OF BOURBON. 
1589-1610. HENRY IV (Henry of Navarre) not recognized by the 


1589. Henry IV victorious at Arques and Ivry; besieges Paris, 

1590. which is relieved by the Duke of Parma; the Moderates 
or Politiques rally to him. 

1593. He abjures Protestantism at St. Denis. 

1594. Satire MSnippSe against League and Spain, works for 

Henry IV; the King crowned at Chartres; Paris sur- 


Chronological Summary 

rendered to him; lie is recognized by the League lead- 
ers, particularly by Mayenne. 

1598. Religious wars ended by Edict of Nantes. 

1598. Treaty of Vervias with Spain; conquests restored to 



Henry IV, aided by Sully, devotes himself to the eco- 
nomic reconstruction of France. 

1601. Charron: On Wisdom. 

1608. St. Francois de Sales: Introduction to Devout Life. 

1608-1627. Honore d'Urfe: Astree. Malherbe, Regnier. 

1610. Alleged ** Grand Design" of Henry IV for the reconstruc- 

tion of Europe; extensive preparations for war in Ger- 
many. Henry IV assassinated; succeeded by his son, 

1610-1643. LOUIS Xm, nine years old. 

1610-1617. Regency of the Queen-Mother, Marie de* Medici. Influ- 
ence of Concini and his wife. Rebellion of the nobles. 

1614. States General (last before 1789); abortive. 

1617. Concini arrested and killed; d' Albert de Luynes in power; 

Queen Marie banished. 

1618. Hotel de Rambouillet rebuilt; assumes social and literary 


1621. Rebellion of the Huguenots; death of de Luynes. Re- 

turn to power of Queen Marie; she quarrels with 
Richelieu, hitherto her protege. 

1624-1642. Unbroken rule of Cardinal Richelieu. 

1627-1628. Rebellion of Protestants. Siege of La Rochelle; political 

1629. privileges taken away from Protestants by Peace of 
Alais, or Edict of Grace. 

1630. Day of Dupes (November 11) ; last effort of Queen Marie's 

faction. Gaston, brother of the King, conspires; Mont- 

1632. morency in open rebellion; defeated; executed. 

1631-1648. Participation of France in THIRTY YEARS 9 WAR, 
against Spain and Austria. Richelieu at first subsidizes 
Gustavus-Adolphus of Sweden; who dies in 1632; uses 
also Bernard of Saxe-Weimar (d. 1639). 

1634-1637. Academy founded. 

1636. Spaniards take Corbie in Picardy; panic; victorious effort, 

1636. Corneille: The Cid, tragedy. 

1637. Descartes: Discourse on Method. 
1640. Corneille: Horace, Cinna, tragedies. 

1640. Jansenius: Augustinus. JANSENISM. 

1641. Conspiracy of Cinq-Mars against Richelieu. 

1642. December 4, death of Richelieu. 

1643. Corneille, Polyeucte, tragedy. 

ClironoIoglcaJ Summary 


1643. May 14, Louis 3HI dies; succeeded by Ms son, 

LOUIS XIV, 1643-1715 
tlien five years old. 

Regency of the Queen Mother, Anne of Austria; Car- 
dinal Mazarin, Queen's favourite, all powerful. War in 
Germany and war with Spain continue. 

1643. Conde victorious over Spaniards at Rocroy. 

1644. CorneiHe: The Liar, first masterpiece of classical comedy. 

1647. Vaugelas: Remarks on the French Language. 

1648. Scarron: Burlesque Mnetil. 

1648-1653. The FRONDE; last attempt at armed resistance to 

1648-1649. Old Eronde, or ParBamentary; treaty of RueiL 

1649-1653. New Eronde (Princes), in alliance with Spain. Prin- 
cipal characters: Cardinal de Retz, Conde, Turenne 
(shift positions); and romantic heroines: Melle de 
Montpensier, Mme. de Chevreuse, Mme. de Longue- 
ville, etc. Ruin of the country. Mazarin returns in 

1649 seq. Melle de Scudery; pseudo-antique society romances, 
Cyrus, CUlie. 

1656-1657. Pascal: Provincial Letters; high point in conflict between 
Jansenists and Jesuits. 

1657. Alliance with Cromwell against Spain. 

1659. Peace of the Pyrenees with Spain (seed of future war). 

1659. Moiiere: Les PrScieuses Ridicules, first masterpiece; re- 

bellion of commonsense against affectation. 

1661. Death of Mazarin. 


The King his own Prime Minister. Policy of magnificence. 
Served by Colbert, Louvois, Turenne, Conde. New 
generation of great classical writers. 

1662. Bossuet preaches at the Louvre. 
1662. Moli&re: School for Wives. 

1664. Moliere: Tartuffe (first version). 

1665. La Rochefoucauld: Maxims. 

1666. Moliere: The Misanthropist. 

1666. Boileau: Satires. 

1667. Racine: Andromaque. 

1668. La Fontaine: Fables. 

1667-1668. First War of Conquest: WAR OF DEVOLUTION, or 
of the Queen's Rights. Conquest of parts of Flanders 
and Franche-Comte. A Triple Alliance (England, Hol- 
land, Sweden) compels Louis to sign 

1668. Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, retaining only twelve fortified 

towns in Spanish Netherlands, particularly Lille. 

360 Chronological Summary 

1669-1679. "Peace of the Church"; persecution of Jansenism miti- 

1671. First letters of Mme. de Sevigne to Mme. de Grignan. 
167s! Moliere's last play: The Imaginary Invalid. 

1674. Boileau: Poetic Art. 

1674. Corneille's last play: Sur&na. 

1677. Racine retires after failure of Phedre. 

1678. Mme. de Lafayette: Princess of Cleves. 

1678. Lafontaine: Fables, second series. 

1672-1678. Second War of Conquest. (WAR OF HOLLAND.) 
Prepared by disruption of Triple Alliance. 

1672. Crossing of the Rhine; easy conquest of Southern Holland. 

The brothers de Witt, leaders of the aristocratic re- 
publican party in Holland, are killed, and superseded 
by William JJJ of Orange, henceforth the soul of Euro- 
pean resistance to Louis XIV. Sluices opened, Amster- 
dam saved; Holland allied with Empire and Spain. 
Louis in person conquers Franche-Comt6 again. Last 
campaigns of Conde and Turenne. 

1678-1679. Series of treaties at Nymwegen. Holland restored. 
France keeps Franche-Comte. Louis at the height of 
his power, "nee pluribus impar." 

1679. Recrudescence of intolerance against Protestants and 

Jansemsts. Difficulties with the Pope. 

1680-1683. Chambers of Reunion; French courts of claims deciding 
what territories had once belonged to France's recent 
conquests. Decisions enforced by French troops. 

1681. Strasbourg thus "united" with France; 

1682. Gallican attitude of the King in his conflict with the Pope 

supported by French Assembly of the Clergy. Declara- 
tion of Four Articles, drawn up by Bossuet (clearest 
statement of traditional Gallicanism). 

1683. Death of Colbert. 

1685. Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Large exodus, al- 

though emigration was prohibited. Huguenots in Hol- 
land, England, Brandenburg. Lutherans in Alsace 
preserve their religious liberties. 

1686. Fontenelle: Plurality of Inhabited Worlds. 

1687. Ch. Perrault: Century of Louis the Great: salient episode 

in Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns. 

1687. Bossuet: Funeral Oration of Cond$; knell of the Golden. 


1688. La Bruyere: Characters. 
1691. Racine's last tragedy: Athalie. 

1689-1697, Third Great War of Louis XIV: WAR OF THE AUGS- 
BURG LEAGUE. William of Orange, king of England 
since 1688, the center of the League. 

Chronological Summary 361 

1688. The Palatinate (cause or pretest of the conflict) ravaged 

by the French. 

1680. Grand Alliance: Augsburg League (Emperor, Sweden, 

Spain, Bavaria, Saxony, Palatinate), plus Savoy, Eng- 
land, and Holland. Catinat and Luxembourg, French 
generals, more than a match for William lit and Eu- 
gene of Savoy. Naval disaster at Cape La Hogue. 

1697. Treaties of Ryswick; France acknowledges William HI 

as king of England; restores some "reunions"; barrier 
of fortresses in Spanish Netherlands garrisoned by 
Dutch troops as a protection against France. Posses- 
sion of Alsace with Strasbourg confirmed to France. 
A draw. 

1697. Fenelon: Maxims of the Saints; Quietism controversy 

with Bossuet. 

1697. Bayle: Critical Dictionary, the arsenal of 'Thilosophy." 

1699. Fenelon: T6Umaque> pedagogical romance and aristo- 

cratic Utopia. 

1700. Charles H of Spain dies, leaving his dominions to Duke 

of Anjou (Philip V), grandson of Louis XIV. Louis ac- 
cepts, in spite of previous agreements; **No more 
Pyrenees." Grand Alliance, England, Holland, the 
Emperor against France; Eugene of Savoy, Marlbor- 
ough, and Heinsius leaders of the Coalition, after the- 
death of William HI. 

1704. French defeated at Blenheim, 

1706. at Eamillies and Turin, 

1708. at Oudenarde. 

1708. Lille surrenders; severe winter; great distress; rise of the 

1709. financiers (Samuel Bernard); cf. Lesage: Turcaret. 
France humbled, sues for peace. Terms too harsh, 
revulsion. Louis appeals to the nation. 

1709. Eugene and Marlborough win costly and indecisive bat- 

tie of Malplaquet over Villars. Venddme successful in 
Spain, the Spanish people supporting Philip V. 

1711. Marlborough removed from command on account of 

political changes; Grand Alliance disrupted by death of 

1712. Victory of Villars at Denain. 

1713. Series of treaties at Utrecht. France loses Acadia, New- 

foundland; Philip V keeps Spain and colonies, but loses 
European possessions of Spain; Spanish Netherlands to 
go to Austria. 
1713. Papal Bull Unigenitus condemning Jansenism. 

War with Empire continues. Eugene of Savoy unsuc- 


Chronological Summary 

1714. - Treaty of Rastadt, confirming peace of Ryswick. 

1715. Louis XIV dies, succeeded by his great-grandson, five 

years old. 


17I-1774. LOUIS XV, 

1715-1723. THE REGENCY. Philip of Orleans, regent. General 

tone of immorality. Louis XIV's policies abandoned. 

Religious toleration. 

1717. Alliance with England against Spain (Alberoni) ; treaty of 

1720. London. 

1718-1720. Financial "System" of John Law; Royal Bank, Missis- 
sippi scheme. Wild speculation. Collapse. 
1715-1735. Lesage: Gil Bias. 

1718. Arouet assumes name Voltaire. First tragedy, (Edipus. 

1721. Montesquieu: Persian Letters. 

1721. Dubois, with the favour of the Regent, becomes Cardinal, 

1722-1723. Prime Minister. Dubois and Regent die, 1723. 

1723-1726. Duke of Bourbon, prime minister. 

1725. King married to Marie Leczynska. 

1726-1743. Fleury (soon Cardinal), tutor of Louis XV, overthrows 
Duke of Bourbon. Quietly successful government. 

1726-1729. Voltaire in England; great formative period. 

1730. Bull Unigenitus the law of the State and the Church; 

Jansenism persecuted. Miracles at St. Medard's Ceme- 

1732. Cemetery closed. 

1733-1735. WAR OF THE POLISH SUCCESSION; by treaty of 
Vienna (1738), Stanislaus Leczynski receives Lorraine 
for life, with reversion to France (d. 1766). 

1734-. Voltaire: Philosophical Letters (manifesto of Anglicized 


1734. Montesquieu: Greatness and Decadence of the Romans. 

1735. Prevost: Manon Lescaut. 

1736. Voltaire: The Wordling (Le Mondairi), poem. 

and Prussia against Austria and England. Dupleix in 
1744. Beginning of Mme. de Pompadour's influence. 

1744. Eng falls sick at Metz; manifestations of popular affec- 

tion Louis the Well-Beloved. 

1745. Victory of Maurice de Saxe (Louis present) at Fontenoy. 
1748. Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle; no gain. "A King's, not a mer- 
chant's peace." 

1748. Montesquieu: Spirit of Laws. 

1749. Buffon's Natural History begins to appear. 

Chronological Summary 


1749-1750, Rousseau: Discourse on Sciences and Arts* 

1751-1753. Voltaire at Potsdam with Frederick IL 

1751. Voltaire: Century of Louw XIV. 

1751-1780. Publication of the Encyclopedia (Diderot, editor). 

1753-1758. Voltaire: Essay on Manners. 

1755. Rousseau: Discourse on Inequality. 

1756-1763. SEVEN YEARS* WAR. Partly through Mme. de Pom- 
padour, continental alliances reversed. France, Aus- 
tria, and Russia against Prussia and England. Fight- 
ing in Europe; French defeated at Rossbach by 

1757. Frederick U; in India: Clive victor at Plassey; in 

1759. America: death of Wolfe and Montcalm at Quebec. 

1763. Treaties of Paris and Hubertsbourg; England's colonial 

supremacy firmly established. 

1757. Damiens's attempt of Bang's life. 

1758. Voltaire: Candide (against optimism). 
1758-1760. CHOISEUL, minister of foreign affairs. 

1760. Voltaire: Tancrede, tragedy (pre-romanticism). 
1761-1762. Rousseau: New Heloise; Emile; Social Contract. 
1761-1762. Jesuits condemned and expelled from France. 
1762-1765. Calas, unjustly executed, declared innocent through Vol- 
taire's efforts. 

1764. Death of Mme. de Pompadour. 

1764. Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary. 

1765. Du BeUoy: Siege of Calais, national tragedy. 
1765. Sedaine: Philosopher without Knowing it, drama. 

1768. Corsica bought. (1769: Napoleon born.) 

1769. Voltaire: History of the Parliament of Paris. 
1769-1774. Mme. du Barry, favourite. 

1770. Choiseul falls. Retires to Chanteloup; great popularity. 

1771. Maupeou reforms Parliaments. 

1772. First partition of Poland. 

1774. Death of Louis XV; succeeded by his grandson 

1774-1792. LOUIS XVI. 

1774. Maupeou Courts abolished; old Parliaments restored. 

1774-1781. Maurepas most trusted minister. 

1774-1776. TURGOT, minister of navy and finances. 

1776. Werther and Ossian translated. 

1776. American Independence. 

1777-1781. Necker, minister of finances. 

1778. Alliance between France and United States. Vergennes 


1778. Deaths of Voltaire and J. J. Rousseau. 

1778. Buff on: Epochs of Nature. 

1778-1783. AMERICAN WAR; Lafayette, d'Estaing, Rocham- 

beau; Suffren, de Grasse. 

1783. Treaties of Paris and Versailles. 

364 Chronological Summary 

1783-1787. Calonne minister; prodigality a system, 

1784. Beaumarchais: Marriage of Figaro (revolutionary spirit). 

1785. Scandal of the Diamond Necklace; supposed to liave been 

given to Queen Marie-Antoinette by Cardinal de 
Rohan. Queen unpopular. 

1787. Assembly of Notables at Versailles refuse support to 

1787-1788. Lomenie de Brienne succeeds Calonne. 

1788. Increasing difficulties with Parliament. 

1788. Barthelemy: Young Anacharsis (revived interest in an- 


1788. Lomenie resigns. Necker returns. States General sum- 



1789. May 5. Meeting of the States General. 

June 17. The Third Estate votes itself a NATIONAL 

CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY. Joined later by the 

other orders. 

July 14. Pall of the Bastille. 
Sporadic, spontaneous uprisings in the country; "The 

Great Pear." Tricolour adopted. Pirst emigres. 
Aug. 4. Renunciation to feudal rights. 
Oct. 5-0. Mob (mostly women) brings Royal Pamily 

from Versailles to Paris. 

1790. Constitution and Civil Organization of the Clergy voted. 

1791. June 20. Flight of King; arrested at Varennes; rein- 


Feuillants (Royalists) and Girondists. 

1792. April 20. War declared against Austria. 


July 11. Manifesto of Brunswick. "The Country in 

Aug. 10. Tuileries stormed. King seeks refuge in As- 
sembly. Suspended. 

Sept. 2-7. Massacre in the prisons. 

Sept. 20. Victory over Prussians at Valmy. 

Sept. 21. CONVENTION meets. First Republic pro- 
claimed. Victory of Jemmapes. 

1793. Jan. 21. Louis XVI executed. 

Feb. 1. War with Great Britain, Holland, Spain (Sar- 
dinia had already joined coalition). 

April 6. Committee of Public Safety. The Mountain 
(radicals) in control. Girondists eliminated. 

Ciironological Summary 


1798. Marat assassinated. Vendee, whole West and South in 

revolt. Catholic Church in rebellion. Reign of Terror. 
Carnot "organizer of victory.** 

1794. Recrudescence of Terror with absolute supremacy of 

Robespierre. Danton executed. Condorcet: Sketch of 

the Progress of the Human Mind. A. Chenier : Iambics. 
June 8. Ceremony in honour of "Supreme Being"; 

Robespierre high priest. 
June 26. Victory of Meurus. 
July 27. IX THERMHK>R; Fall of Robespierre. 
Convention henceforth dominated by THERMEDORIAN 

REACTION (Barras, Tallien). 

1795. Treaties of Basel, with Prussia and Spain. Left bank of 

the Rhine in French hands. 
Oct. 5-13. Vendemiaire: Bonaparte crushes Royalist 

uprising in Paris (the "whiff of grapeshot"). 

1795-1799. DIRECTORY; bourgeois regime, corrupt, vacillating, 
weak, and violent. 

1796. War continues with England and Austria. Great plan of 

Carnot. Failure of Jourdan compels Moreau to retreat. 
Brilliant campaign of Bonaparte in ITALY; leads to 

1797. Peace of Campo Formio with Austria. Creation of satel- 

lite republics. 

1798-1799. Bonaparte's EGYPTIAN CAMPAIGN. Fleet destroyed 
at Aboukir; fails before St. Jean d'Acre. Abandons 
his army, which capitulates. 

land, Austria, Russia, Portugal, Naples, Turkey. 
Massena at Zurich and Brune in Holland defeat the 

1799. Nov. 9. (XVm BRUMAIRE), Coup d'&at; Bona- 

parte seizes power. 
1799-1804. CONSULATE. 

1800. Victories of Marengo (Desaix, Bonaparte) and Hohen- 

linden (Moreau) lead to the 

1801. Peace of Luneville with Austria. 
1801-1802. Concordat with the Pope. 

1801-1802, Chateaubriand : Atala ; Spirit of Christianity. (*04, Rent.) 

1802. Peace of Amiens with England. 

1803. War resumed. 

1804. Conspiracy of Pichegru; Moreau exiled; Enghien exe- 



Austria, Russia). 
Oct. 21. Trafalgar. 
Dec. 2. Austerlitz. Peace of Presbourg with Austria. 


Chronological Summary 

1806. Confederacy of the EMne established. Holy Roman 

Empire officially at an end, 

FOURTH COALITION (England, Russia, Prussia). 
Prussia destroyed at Jena and Auerstaedt; Berlin entered. 
Berlin Decree; Continental Blockade against England. 

1807. War with Russia continues; Eylau, Friedland. 
Peace of Tilsitt with Russia and Prussia. 

1807. Madame de Stael: Corinne. 

1808-1814. Intervention in Spain and Portugal. PENINSULAR 

WAR (Wellington). 
1809. Chateaubriand: The Martyrs. 


TRIA. Wagram; peace of Vienna. 

1810. Napoleon divorces Josephine and marries Marie-Louise 

of Austria. Greatest extent of French Empire; ISO de- 
partments under immediate control. Spain, Naples, 
Northern Italy as feudatory states; whole of Germany 
and Grand-Duchy of Warsaw "protected" or "allied." 

1810. Mme. de Stael: Germany (suppressed). 

1811. Birth of King of Rome. 

1812. RUSSIAN WAR. Grand Army, 600,000 men, less than 

half of them French; Austria, Prussia, Spain officially 
allied with Napoleon. Borodino. Moscow. Retreat 
from Moscow. Total loss of Grand Army. Malet con- 
spiracy in Paris. 

1813. CAMPAIGN OF GERMANY; one enforced "ally" 

after another joins the crusade of liberation. 
Oct. 16-19. Leipzig, "Battle of the Nations," French 

1814. Renewal of opposition in French Chambers, long silent. 

CAMPAIGN OF FRANCE; Napoleon at his best. 
Minor victories. Paris capitulates. Napoleon abdicates 
and is sent to Elba. 

Very moderate terms of peace. Tactless methods of 
returning emigres. 

1815. March 1. Napoleon lands at Cannes; THE HUN- 


March 20. Paris; Additional Act to the Constitution. 
War renewed. 

June 18. Waterloo. 

June 22. Second abdication, in favour of his son, Na- 
poleon II. Paris entered a second time by the Allies. 


Napoleon sent to St. Helena (d. 1821). 

Harsher terms of peace (Treaties of Vienna). 



Names and Topics treated in the book are indicated in capitals and small 

Names and Topics alluded to are indicated in small Roman. 

Titles of books, plays, pictures in Italics. 

"Characters in works of fiction" between inverted commas. 

Unless otherwise indicated, dates after name are birth and death. In the 
case of sovereigns, the first and last dates stand for birth and death; the second 
and third, for dates of reign. E. g. 9 Napoleon: 1769-1804-1814-15-1821: born 
1769, Emperor 1804, abdicates 1814 and again 1815, dies 1821. 


Abbeville, city in Picardy, 183 
Abelard, philosopher (1079-1142), 55 
ACADEMY: French (Academic Fran- 

caise), 54, 139-142, 148, 200, 212, 

213, 219, 248-249, 266 
of Sciences, 219, 222, 267 
of Inscriptions, 219, 283 
of Bordeaux, 267 
of Dijon, 254, 273 

Adelaide du Guesdin, tragedy by Vol- 
taire (1734), 287 
Adone, Italian poem by Marini, 1623, 

Adrets, Baron des, Protestant leader, 

1513-1587, 13, 106 
Africa, epic, Petrarch, 44 
Aguesseau, d' great Parliamentary 

family, 73, 307 

Aigues-Mortes, city in Languedoc, 165 
Aiguillon, duke <T, minister under 

Louis XV, 1720-1782, 231 
A'Kempis, Thomas (Imitation), 29 
Alais, peace granted to Protestants, 

1629, 125, 199 
Alanus de Insulis, poet, ca. 1128- 

1202, 43 
Alarcon, Spanish dramatist, d. 1639, 

Alary, Abbe (Club de 1'Entresol), 

1689-1770. 244 
ALEMBERT, d*, mathematician and 

encyclopaedist, 1717-1783, 250, 251, 

252, 253, 270 
Alexandra, Battles of, painted by Le- 

brun, 159 
Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, 1777- 

1825, 341 
Alexandrian poetry, 47, 283 

Aligre: great Parliamentary family, 


Alsace, 36, 94, 178, 180, 321, 334 
Alumbrados: mystic sect, sixteenth 

century, 292 
Alzire, or the Americans, tragedy by 

Voltaire, 1736, 288 
Amboise, conspiracy, 1560, 107 
America: influx of precious metals, 91 
American War (War of Independence), 

1778-1783, 299, 315 
Amerigo Vespucci, navigator, 1451- 

1512, 26 
Amyot, bishop, translator of Plutarch, 

1513-1593, 47 
Ancien Regime, by Funck-Brentano, 

1926, 7. 
Ancien Regime (Origines de la France 

Contemporaine), Taine, 1876, cf. 

Ancien RSgime et la Rtvolittion, de Toc- 

queville, 1856, 8. 
Ancre, Marshal d*, cf. Concini. 
Andelot, d*, Protestant leader, 1521- 

1569, 108 
Andromache, painting by L. David, 


Angelique, Mother, cf. Arnauld 
Anglomania, cf. England: influence 
Anjou, Province, 51, 58 
Anne of Austria, queen, 1601-1666, 

122, 128, 151 
Anne of Brittany, duchess and queen, 

1477-1514, 61 
Annonay, town, 300, 301 
Anti-Bigot, or the Deist's Quatrains, 

1622, 203 
Anticlaudianus, poem by Alanus de 

Insulis, 43 
" Antiphysis," in Rabelais, 41, 106, 273 




Antiquities of Rome, sonnets, I. du 
Bellay, 1558, 49 

Antonines, 43 

Anzin, coal mines, 300 

Apology (Defence of the Christian Re- 
ligion, Pascal's Thoughts}, 204-205 

Apology for Raymond de Sebonde, in 
Montaigne's Essays, 110 

Arabian Nights, Galland's version, 
1704-1717, 288 

Arabic, 38, 44 

Arabs, 26 

Arbaud, early Academician, 140 

ARCHEOLOGY, 283-284 

ARCHITECTUEE: Renaissance, 30-32 
Jesuit, 54 
Louis XIV, 54 
Rococo, 256 
Louis XV, 279 
Louis XVI, 279 
Nee-Classical, 279-282 

Argenson, ministerial family under 
Louis XV; Rene-Louis d', author of 
Memoirs, 1694KL757, 295 

Argenteuil, near Paris, 80 

Argues, victory of Henry TV, 1589, 
114, 120 

Aristophanes, Greek comic dramatist, 

Aristotle, philosopher, 10, 11, 34, 44, 
54, 55, 59, 136, 148, 212, 213 

Arkwright, English inventor, 1732- 
1792, 300 

Armagnacs, faction during 100- Years 
War, 13, 108 

ARNAULD family (Port-Royal, Jan- 
senism), 192-198 

Angelique, Mother, 1591-1661, 192 

Antoine, 192 

Antoine, the Great Arnauld, 1612- 
1694, 195-198, 213 

d'Andilly, 1588-1674, 190 
Arnold, Matthew, poet and critic, 

1822-1888, 157 
"Arnolphe," in School for Wives, Mo- 

liere, 1662, 170 
Art for Art's Sake, 57, 247 
Arthenice, cf. Rambouillet, Marquise 

Artois, Count of (Charles X). 1757- 

1836, 311, 321 
ASSEMBLIES, cf. Clergy, Notables, 

Assignats, 327 
Astree, pastoral romance, d'Urfe, 

1610-1627, 143 

Athalie, tragedy, Racine, 1691, 245 
Aubignac, Abb6 d', critic (Practice of 

the Theatre), 1604-1676, 136 

Aubigne, Agrippa d*, Huguenot poet, 
1552-1630, 94, 133, 143, 200, 283 

, Frangoise d*, cf . Mme de Mainte- 

Augustine, St., 148, 194, 196 

AuguMinus, theological treatise, Jan- 
senius, 1640, 194. 

Augustus, Emperor, 49, 145, 213, 345 

Aulard, A., historian of the French 
Revolution, 328 

Aulus Gellius, 43 

Austerh'tz, victory of Napoleon, 1805, 

Austrasia, 61 

Austria, House of: 12, 113, 124, 125, 
127, 200, 324, 333, 334 

Avenel, Vicomte d', economic his- 
torian, 92 

Avignon, papal city, cf . Captivity of 
Babylon, 28 
Revolution, 320 

Azay-le-Rideau, Renaissance chateau, 

Babeuf, Caius Gracchus, communist, 

1760-1797, 284 
Babouc, Vision of, by Voltaire, 1746, 


Babylonian Captivity (Popes in Avi- 
gnon), 1309-1377, 28, 96 
Bacon, Francis, Lord Verulam, 1561- 

1626, 55, 209, 261, 262 
Bacon, Roger, 1214-1294, 29 
Baif, poet, 1532-1589, 47, 51, 58 
Bainville, Jacques, royalist historian, 

5, 6, 16, 67, 150, 329 
Bajazet, tragedy, Racine, 1672, 288 
Ballard, General (Napoleon, an Out- 
line), 335 

Balsamo, Joseph, cf . Cagliostro 
BALZAC, Guez de, prose writer, 1594- 

1654, 134, 137, 143, 
Balzac, Honore de, novelist, 1799- 

1850, 140, 345 
BANKRUPTCY, 235, 315 
Baour-Lormian, poet, 282 
Barbier, Auguste, political poet, 1805- 

1882, 283 

Barcelona, city, Catalonia, 60 
Barras, politician (Thermidor), 1755- 

1829, 202, 323, 338 
Barreaux, des, libertine poet, 1602- 

1674, 202 
BARRY, Countess du, Jeanne Becu, 

Louis XV's favourite, 1743-1793, 

157, 208, 230, 307 



Bartas, du, Huguenot poet, 1544- 

1590, 133 
BARTHEXEMY, Abbe J. J., archeologist 

(Young Anacharsis), 1716-1795, 284 
Basel, 104; treaties, 1795, 324, 333 
Bastille, fall, 1789, 122, 126, 243, 297, 


Bayard, Knight without Pear or Re- 
proach, ca. 1473-1524, 51, 61 
BAYLE, Peter (Critical Dictionary) 

1647-1706, 216-218, 219, 221, 260, 


Beamese, cf . Henry IV 
Beauce, district, S. W. of Paris, 80 
Beaumanoir, medieval law writer, 303 
Beaumarchais (Figaro), 1732-1799, 

238, 246, 290 
Beauvais, city, 183 
Beccaria, Italian criminologist, 1738- 

1794, 336 

Becu, Jeanne, cf . Barry, Madame du 
Beda, conservative theologian, Sor- 

bpnne, d. 1536, 66, 99, 104 
Belisariiis, picture by L. David, 281 
BELLAY, Joachim du, Pleiad poet, 

1522-1560, 32, 47, 49, 50, 51, 58-59, 

214, 286 

Belle-Isle, Marshal de, 1684-1761, 249 
Belloy, du, dramatist (Siege of Calais), 

1727-1775, 246, 287 
Bembo, Cardinal, humanist, 1470 

1547, 44 
Benedict XIV, pope from 1740 to 

1758, 250 
Benserade, poet, "Precieux," 1613- 

1691, 138 

Bentley, philologist, 1671-1742, 214 
Bergerac, cf . Cyrano 
"Bergeret, Lucien," in A. France's 

Histoire Contemporaine, 218 
Bergson, H., philosopher, b. 1859, 40, 


Bernard, St., 55 
Bernard, Samuel, financier, 1651- 

1739, 237 

Bernini, Italian artist, 1598-1680, 54 
Bernis, Abbe and Cardinal de, poet 

and diplomatist, 1715-1794, 249, 

267, 320 

Berthollet, chemist, 1748-1822, 293 
Bertrand, Louis, novelist and historian 

(Louis XIV, 1923), 5, 6, 150, 158 
Berulle, Cardinal, founder of the Ora- 
tory, 1575-1629, 191 
Bethune, cf. SULLY 
Beza, Theodore de Beze, reformer, 

1519-1605, 104 
Bijoux Indiscrete, licentious tale, 

Diderot, 1747, 239 

Biron, Marshal, 1562-1602, 115 

Bismarck, Iron Chancellor, 1815-1898, 

Black Code, or Colonial Code, 179 

Black Death, 80 

Blois, city, States General, 68, 108 

Bodin, J., political writer (The Repub- 
lic), 1520-1596, 79, 90 

Boehme, German mystic, 1575-1624, 

BoiLEAtr, Despreaux, critic, 1636 
1711, 4, 6, 9, 20, 32, 57, 67, 133, 134, 
140, 142, 143, 153, 155, 159, 179, 

198, 206, 212-214, 220, 278, 285, 

Boisguilbert (or Boisguillebert), econ- 
omist, 1646-1714, 208 


"Bonnard, Sylvestre," in Le crime de 
S. B., Anatole France, 218 

Bordeaux, city, 80, 254, 255, 263, 267 

Bordeaux, Major Henri, novelist, 142 

Borghese, Pauline Bonaparte, 1780- 
1825, 284 

Borgia, Cesare, d. 1507, 56 

BOSSUET, J. B., Bishop of Meaux, 
1627-1704, 6, 18, 19, 20, 96, 134, 
148, 151, 152, 160, 188, 189, 193, 

199, 201, 206, 209, 217, 228, 231, 
268, 303, 339 

Boucher, Francois, painter, 1703-1770, 

252, 257-258, 280 
Bougainville, navigator, 1729-1811, 


Bouillon: conspires against Henry IV, 
family, misalliance with Crozat, 

Boulainvilliers, historian, 1658-1722, 


BOURBONS: 6, 10, 73, 108, 155, 200, 
/ 264, 341 

Constable, Duke, 1490-1527, 61, 

62, 116 
Duke, 1692-1740 (Minister, 1723- 

26), 234, 237 
Bourdeille, cf . Brantome 
Bourdon, early Academician, 140 
Bourgeois Getitilhomme, comedy, Mo- 

liere, 1670, 170, 288 
BOURGEOISIE, 63, 74, 124, 160, 169, 
170, 204, 233, 327; cf. Third Estate 
Bourges, city, Central France (King 
of, Charles VII), 67, 103 
Pragmatic of, 1438, 96 
Bourgogne, Duke of, Fenelon's pupil, 

1682-1712, 232 

Bourgogne, Province, cf. Burgundy 
Bouteville, duellist, 1600-1627, 126 


Brant6me, Bourdeille, Abbot of, biog- 
rapher, 1535-1614, 69 

Brest, naval base, 182 

Briand, Aristide, statesman, b. 1862, 

Briare, Canal of, 119 

Briconnet, bishop of Meaux, 1470- 
1534, 101, 103 

Brie, district, 79 

Brienne, cf . Lomenie 

Brieux, modern dramatist, 245 

Brinvilliers, Marquise, poisoner, 1630- 
1676, 203 

Brissac, Cosse-, Marshal, d. 1621, 115 

Brittany, 61, 115, 126 

"Brotteaux des Islettes," in A. 
France's The Gods are Aikirat, 218 

Brou, Kenaissance Church, 30 

Brunetiere, F., critic, 1849-1906, 17, 

Brunswick, Prussian general, 1735- 
1806, 322 

Brutus, painting by L. David, 281 

Bude, Guillaume, hellenist, 1467-1540, 
45, 48, 66, 101 

BUFFON, author Natural History, 
1707-1778, 253, 255, 261, 263, 267- 
269, 326 

Bull UNIGENITTJS, cf . Unigenitus 

BUREAUCRACY, 127, 164-167, 231 

Burgundians, 13, 28, 108 

Burgundy, 30, 60, 116, 180, 255, 268 

, Duke of, cf . Bourgogne 

Burke (Reflections on the French Revo- 
lution), 1729-1797, 312 

Bussy-Rabutin, society writer, 1618- 
1693, 137 

Byron, Lord, 1788-1824, 4, 263, 289 

Cabal of the Devout, cf . Company of 

the Holy Sacrament 
Cabarrus, Teresia, cf . Mme. TaHien 
CAFES in the eighteenth century, 5243 
CAGLIOSTRO (Joseph Balsamo), im- 
postor, 1743-1795, 291, 293, 294 
Caillavet, Mme. Arman de (Salon), 


Calais, city, 52 

Calderon de la Barca, Spanish drama- 
tist, 1600-1681, 143 
Calendar, Revolutionary Reform, 325 
Callot, engraver, 1592-1635, 185 
CALONNE, 1734-1802, Comptroller of 

Finances, 1785-87, 316-317, 327 
CALVIN, John, reformer, 1509-1564, 6, 
9, S3, 41, 44, 94, 100, 103-107, 194, 
195, 202, 276 

Calvinism, 103-107 

Cambrai, city (Fenelon, archbishop 

of), 199 
Camp of the Cloth of Gold, 1520, 66, 

Canova, Italian sculptor, 1757-1822, 

281, 284 

Capet, Hugh, ca. 938-987-996, 60 
Capuchins and Voltaire, 266 
Carlyle, Thomas (French Revolution), 

1795-1881, 271, 323, 328 
Carmelites, 191 
CABNOT, Lazare, Organizer of Victory, 

1753-1823, 324-325, 333, 334, 338, 


Carson, Lord, anti-Home Ruler, 306 
CAETESIANTSM, philosophy of DES- 
CARTES, q.v. 
Cartwright, English inventor, 1743- 

1823, 300 

Casement, Sir Roger, Irish rebel, 322 
Castelvetro, Italian critic, 1505-1571, 

Castiglione, Baldessare (II Cortegiano) 9 

1478-1529, 50, 56 
Castile, 127 
Castro, Guillen de, Spanish dramatist, 

1567-1631, 143 
Cateau-Cambresis, Peace with Spain, 

1559, 91 

France, 1519-1589, 13, 56, 69, 108, 

Catherine II, Empress of Russia, 1729- 

1796, 252, 271, 305 

Church, Clergy 

Catholic League (Holy), cf. League 
Caux, district, 79 
Caylus, Count de, archeologist, 1692- 

1765, 281, 283 
Cellini, Benvenuto, Italian artist, 

1500-1571, 56 
Century of Louis the Great, poem by 

Chas. Perrault, 1687, 212 
Century of Louis XIV, history, Vol- 
taire, 1751, 150, 265, 266, 303 
Cercle de FEntresol, Club, 244 
Cervantes (Don Quixote), 1547-1616, 

Cevennes (Huguenot insurrections), 

125, 202 
Chambers, Ephraim (Cyclopaedia), d. 

1740, 263, 269 
Chambord, Renaissance chateau, 31, 

32, 58, 68, 77 

Chamfort, author, 1741-1794, 248, 250 
Chamillart, minister, 1651-1721, 166 
Champagne, province, 80, 324 



Champs-Elysees, Paris, 334 
Chanteloup, ChoiseuTs country seat, 

CHAPELAIN, J., author (Academy, La 

Pucette), 1598-1674, 137, 142, 143 
Cliapelle, poet, 1626-1686, 215 
Characters, La Bruyere, 1688, 207, 242 
Chardin, painter, 1699-1779, 258 
Charlemagne, Emperor, 742-814, 26, 

64, 127 

Charles, physicist, 1746-1822, 301 
Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, 

1433-1477, 61 
Charles V, German Emperor, 1500- 

1558, 61, 89, 155 
Charles V of France, 1337-1364-1380, 

51, 64 
Charles VII, 1403-1422-1461, 65, 67, 

Charles VIII, 1470-1483-1498, 50, 51, 


Charles IX, 1550-1560-1574, 108, 122 
Charles IX, tragedy, Marie-Joseph 

Chenier, 1789, 246, 287 
Charles XII, king of Sweden, history 

by Voltaire, 1731, 266 
Charron, moralist (On Wisdom), 1541- 

1603, 146, 204 
Chartres, 80 
Chateaubriand, author and statesman, 

1768-1848, 7, 282, 288, 342 
Chatelet, Mme. du (Voltaire's friend), 

1706-1749, 267 
Chatillon, Cardinal, brother Coligny, 

1517-1571, 106, 108 
Chaulieu, Abbe, 1639-1720, 215 
Chaulnes, Duke de, scientist, 1741- 

1793, 310 
CB^NIER, Andrei poet, 176&-1794, 11, 

48, 282, 285 
Chenier, M. J., dramatist, 1764-1811, 

Chenonceaux, Renaissance chateau, 

Chevreuse, Madame de (Fronde), 

1600-1679, 129 
Chinese Orphan, tragedy, Voltaire, 

1755, 288 
Choiseul, minister under Louis XV, 

1719-1785, 230, 231, 235, 239, 270, 

Christian Socrates, by Guez de Balzac, 

1652, 134 
Chronological Epitome, President He- 

nault, 249 
"Chrysale," in Moliere's Learned 

Ladies, 1672, 211 
CHURCH: cf. Civil Constitution, 

Clergy, Concordat, Gallicanism 

Cicero, 42, 48, 282 

Cid, tragedy, Corneille, 1636, 135-136, 

141-142, 144 

Cinna, tragedy, Comeille, 1640, 145 
Cinq-Mars, conspirator, 1620-1642, 

123, 126 
Cinq-Mars, historical romance, A. de 

Vigny, 1827, 123 
Circle, comedy, Poinsinet de Sivry, 

1764, 247 

Circulation of the Blood, 212 
Cities: under Louis XIV, 163 

Prosperity under Louis XV, 254 
Citizen-King, cf . Louis-Philippe 
Civic Oath of Priests, 320 
Civil Code (1667), 179 
Napoleon's, 9, 337 

235, 319-320 f \ 
"Cleante," in Mx>Bere*s Tartuffe, 

1664-1669, 204 
Clelia, romance, Madeleine de ScudeVy, 

1654-1661, 139 
Clement IX, pope from 1667 to 1669, 

Clement XTV, pope from 1769 to 1774 

(suppresses Jesuits), 235 
Cleopatra, tragedy, Jodelle, 1552, 135 
"Cleopatra," in Comeille's Rodogune, 

1644, 144 
Clermont, Prince de. Academician, 

1688-1781, 249 
CLERGY, 95-99; Declaration of 1682, 

189; on the eve of the Revolution, 

308-309; confiscation of property, 

318; Civil Constitution, 235; Con- 
cordat, 338-339 
Cleves, cf . Princess of 
Clichtove, half-reformer, d. 1543, 102 
Clive, Lord, conqueror of India, 1725- 

1774, 366 
Cloots, Anacharsis,revolutionist,ft755- 


Clovis, Prankish king, 466-511, 64 
CLUBS, 244 
Cluniacs, 20 
Cluny, Abbey, 97 
Coblenz, Emigre" Army, 1792, 321 
Codes, cf . Colbert and Napoleon 
"Coignard, Abbe* Jerdme," in A. 

France's Eotisserie, 218, 309 
COLBERT, minister of Louis XIV, 

1619-1683, 153, 154, 160, 165, 166, 

167, 168-185, 200, 207, 232j 
Colbertism, 175 seq. 
Coligny, Admiral, Huguenot leader, 

1519-1572, 94, 108; family con- 
verted, 200 
College de France, ca. 1530, 12, 45, 46 



Collins, English Deist, 1676-1729, 263 
Colomby, early Academician, 140 
Colonial Code, 1685, 179 
COLONIZATION: Richelieu, 128 
Colbert, 182 
Law, 236 
Colonnade of the Louvre (Perrault), 


Columbus, Christopher, 34 
Committee of Public Safety, 179$- 

1794, 340 

Communism and the Convention, 326 
Commynes, Statesman and Memorial- 
ist, 1445-1509, 89 

COMPAGNONNAGES, 85, 171, 192 

Companies, Colonial, cf. Colonization 

OP THE ALTAR, 1627-1666, 171, 190, 

192, 193, 197, 203 
Comte, Auguste, positivist, 1798-1853, 

Comtesse d'Escarbagnas, comedy, Mo- 

liere, 1671, 162 
Concini, Marshal d'Ancre, d. 1617, 53, 

121, 122 

CONCORDAT: Francis 1, 1516, 73, 97-98 
Bonaparte, 1801, 189, 320, 326, 

338, 339, 342 
CONDE*: Protestant leaders, 13 r 106, 


Converted, 200 

Princess de and Henry IV, 118 
the great Conde, 1621-1686, 129, 

142, 145, 160 
Condillac, Abbe, psychologist, 1715- 

1780, 99, 253, 271, 309 
Condorcet, philosopher, 1743-1794, 

271, 282, 310 
Confessions, Rousseau, pub. 1781- 

1788, 253, 277 
CONFRERES, 85, 192 
Conrart, first secretary of Academy, 

1603-1675, 139, 147, 200 
Considerations on the Causes of the 

Greatness of the Romans and of their 

Decadence, Montesquieu, 1734, 264 
Consolation to Du Perier, poem, Mai- 

herbe, ca. 1599, 133 
Constable of France, 71; abolished by 

Richelieu, 126 

cf , Bourbon, Montmorency 
Constantine, 95 

Constantinople: fall in 1453, 35, 45, 51 

302, 317, 326, 339 

1790, cf. Civil 
CONVENTION, 1792-1795, 281, 323- 

326, 333, 337 f 338 

Conversation between Marshal d'Hoc- 
quincourt and Father Canaye, St. 
Evremond, 1654, 216 
Conversations on the Plurality of In- 
habited Worlds, popular science, 
Fonteneile, 1686, 221, 222 
Cop, Nicholas, Rector University of 

Paris in 1533, 101, 103 
Corbie, in Picardy, taken by Span- 
iards, 1636, 127 
Corday, Charlotte, murders Marat, 

1768-1793, 323 
Cordeliers, 242 

CORNEILLE, Pierre, dramatist, 160&- 
1684 (heroism), 11^20, 128, 135-136, 
138, 141, 143, 144, 158, 191, 197. 
219, 246, 265, 342 
CorneiUe, Thomas, 1625-1709, 219 
CORPORATIONS, 82-87, 171-172 
Correspondence: under Louis XV, 

Voltaire's, 255 

Corsica, bought by Choiseul, 1768, 
299, 331 
Constitution planned by J. J. 

Bousseau, 304 

Cvrtegiano, II (Castiglione), cf. Cour- 
tier, 50, 56 

Councils (Government), 72 
COURT: Francis I, 67-69 
Valois, 69, 136 
Henry IV, 136, 137 
Louis XIII, 136, 137 
Louis XIV, 161-162, 246 
Louis XV, 230, 241, 247, 265 
Louis XVI, 315 
Napoleon, 157, 161, 340 
Courtier, Castiglione, 1514 (printed 

1528), 50, 56 
Courts of Justice, cf . Parliaments, and 


Cousin, Victor, philosopher and his- 
torian, 1792-1867, 129 
Crebulon Fils, 276 
Creusot, ironworks, 1787, 300 
Critical Dictionary, Bayle, 1696-1702, 


Crompton, inventor, 1753-1827, 300 
Croy or Crotly, Prince de, 310 
Crozat, financier, 1655-1738, 236, 238 
Cugnot, engineer, inventor, 1725-1804, 


Cur6 Meslier: ca. 1678-1733, Testa- 
ment of, by Voltaire, 1762 
Commonsense of, by d'Holbach, 

1772, 309 
Curia Regis, 72 

Cyrano de Bergerac, poet, 1619-1655, 
140, 143, 215 



Cyrano de Bergerac, heroic comedy, E. 
Rostand, 189T, 140 


Dacier, Mme. f translator of Homer, 

1651-1720, 214 

Dagobert, Merovingian king, d. 638, 26 
Dance of Death, 36 
Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321, J7, 28, 43, 

Danton, revolutionist, 1759-1794, 318, 


Dares the Phrygian (Trojan War), 44 
Darwin, 1809-1882, 269 
Daubenton, naturalist, 1716-1799, 270 
Daudet, Leon, royalist, 302, 329 
Paurat, humanist, 1508-1588, 46 
DAVID, Louis, painter, 1748-1825, 281, 

282, 283, 285, 287, 289 
Davy, Sir Humphry, inventor, 1778- 

1829, 342 
Decadence, 36 

(Galilean), 1682, 189, 319 
Declaration of St. Germain, 1652, 


MAN, 1789, 303 
Defence and Illustration of the French 

Language, du Bellay, 1549, 58-59 
DEFFAND, Marquise du (Salon), 1697- 

1780, 241, 250-251, 252, 266 
Deists, English, 262 
Delille, Abbe, descriptive poet, 1738- 

1813, 282, 342 

Demolins, French publicist, 36 
Demosthenes, 48 
De Planctu Naturae, poem by Alanus 

de Insulis, 43 

DESCARTES, mathematician, philos- 
opher (Method), 1596-1650, 9, 19, 

20, 99, 146-149, 153, 154, 169, 187, 

204, 209, 210, 211, 220, 261, 262, 304 
Deschanel, President Paul, 1855-1922, 

Desmoulins, Camille, revolutionist, 

176O-1794, 323 
Detail of France (Boisguilbert), 1695, 

Dialogues of the Dead, Fontenelle, 1683, 

Dialogues of the New Italianized French 

Language, H. Estienne, 1578, 50 
Diamond Necklace Scandal, 1784- 

1786, 293, 312 
Diana of Poitiers, favourite of Henry 

II, 1499-1566, 69, 157 
Dickens, cf . Tale of Two Cities 

Dictionary: Academy, Furetiere, Ri- 
chelet, Littre, 141 

HiMorwal, Moreri, 1674, 217 
Historical and Critical, Bayle, 

1696-1702, 217 
Philosophical, Voltaire, 1764, 218, 

Cf. Chambers* Cyclopaedia, and 

Diderot's Encyclopaedia 
DIDEROT, Denis: philosopher, novelist, 
dramatist, encyclopaedist, 1713- 
1784, 12, 140, 170, 215, 218, 239, 
243, 245, 248, 253, 255, 261, 263, 
278, 302, 307 

Dieudonne: Louis XIV, 151 
Dijon: Academy of, 254, 273 
Dimier, modern royalist historian, 6, 


Directoire, 1795-1799, 284, 327, 339 
Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, la 
Boetie, 1548 ?, 64 

on the Evils of the Times, poems, 
Ronsard, 1560-69, 99 

on Method, Descartes, 1637, 146-149 

on the Three Unities, Corneille, 
1660, 136 

on ike Restoration of Arts and Sci- 
ence, Rousseau, 1749-1750, 273, 285 

on the Origins of Inequality among 
Men, Rousseau, 1754, 274 

Preliminary, to the Encyclopaedia, 
d'Alembert, 270 

Discovery: of America, 78, 91; great 

discoveries, 34, 91 
Divine Right, 151, 231 
Dolet, E., printer, humanist, 1509- 

1546, 46, 67, 100 
Dominic, St., 56 
du Barry, du Bartas, du Bellay, du Def- 

fand, cf . Barry, Bartas, Bellay, Def- 


Dubois, Cardinal, minister under Re- 
gency, 1653-1723, 234, 239, 250, 267 
Duclos, polygraph, 1704-1772, 249 
Duelling and Richelieu, 126 
Dumas, Alexander. 1803-1870, 227, 


Dupes, Day of, Nov. 10-11, 1630, 122 
Duprat, Chancellor and Cardinal, 

1463-1535, 71 

Duvergier de Hauranne, cf. St. Cyran 
Dyctis of Crete (Fall of Troy), 44 


EDICTS: OP NANTES, 1598, 13, 93, 199 
REVOCATION, 1685, 14, 154, 193, 

201, 207, 234 
of Grace, Alais, 1629, 125, 126, 199 



Egypt, 280, 335 
Elegances, Lorenzo Valla, 57 
Elegies, Chenier, 282 
Emigres, 321 

EmUe t pedagogical romance, Rous- 
seau, 1762, 275 
EMPIRE: German, 61, 127 

French, 278, 282, 294, 331-346 
Style, 280, 342 
ENCYCLOPEDIA, Diderot and d'Alem- 

bert, 1751-1772, 218, 229, 243, 269- 

272, 336 
Encyclopaedist Group, 202, 251, 253, 

259, 302 

Enghien, Duke of, executed by Bona- 
parte, 1772-1804, 340 
ENGLAND: contrasts with France, 182, 

296, 305, 306, 321 
conflicts, 113, 225, 226, 262 
influence, 55, 170, 214, 216, 244, 
262-263, 269, 289, 291, 301, 308 
ENLIGHTENMENT, 8, 55, 148, 211, 259- 

277, 290, 302, 330, 336 
Entraigues, Henriette, favourite of 

Henry IV, 1579-1633, 116 
Entrecasteaux, d*, navigator, 1737- 

1793, 288 

Epernon, d', 1554-1642, 115 
Epinay, Mme. d', friend of Grimm and 

Diderot, 1726-1783, 238, 252, 255 
Epochs of Nature, Buffon, 1778, 268 
Erasmus, humanist, 1467-1536, 43, 55, 

100, 102, 104 
"Escarbagnas," cf. Comtesse d'Escar- 

Espremesnil, d', Parliament of Paris, 

1746-1794, 292 
Essay on Manners: universal history, 

Voltaire, 1756, 15, 265, 266, 288 
Estienne, printers, Robert, 1503-1559,, 

46, 101 

Henry, 1531-1598, 46, 50, 53, 94, 


family converted, 200 
Estrees, d*, Gabrielle, favourite Henry 

IV, 1573-1599, 118, 157 
Etioles, d', cf . Mme. de Pompadour 
Europe and the French Revolution, A. 

Sorel, 1885-1892, 332-333 
Evolution Commerciale et Industrielle de 

la France sous I'Antien Regime, H. 

See, 168 
Evreux, Count, marries Mile. Crozat, 



Fabre d'Eglantine, poet (Revolution- 
ary Calendar), 1750-1794, 325 
Fabricius, 285 

Factum of France, Boisguilbert, 1705, 


Faguet, E., critic, 1847-1916, 218, 262 
Falconet, sculptor, 1716-1791, 281 
Fallieres, President of France from 

1906 to 1913, 36 
Fanaticism, cf . Mahomet, Voltaire; and 

L'lnfame; Voltaire 
Farel, reformer, 1489-1565, 101 
Fascism, 179 
Father of the Family, drama, Diderot, 

1758, 246 

Faubourg St. Antoine, 241 
Faubourg St. Germain, 241 
Faure, F., President from 1895 to 

1899, 36 
Federalism, 338 
Federation, July 14, 1790, 297 
FENELON, Archbishop of Cambrai, 
1651-1715, 199, 209, 214, 264, 303 
Quietism, 198, 199 
Letter to Louis XIV, 208 
Telemachus, Salentum, aristo- 
cratic Utopia, 228, 231, 232, 
Fermat, mathematician, 1601-1665, 

Fermiers Generaux, Contractors of 

Taxes, 316 

Ferney, Voltaire's home, 255, 265 
Feudalism, 62, 70, 71, 82, 232 
abolished Aug. 4, 1789, 70, 318, 326, 

Ficino, Marsilio, Italian Humanist, 

1433-1499, 55 

"Figaro," cf. Marriage of Figaro 
FINANCES, Francis I, 69-71 

Henry IV (Sully), 115, 119, 172 
Richelieu, 128, 173 
Mazarin, Fouquet, 128, 130, 173 
Colbert, 173-175 
Regency (Law), 236-238 
Louis XVI, 315-317 
Revolution, 827 
FINANCIEBS, 70, 176, 238, 316 
Flanders, 60, 81, 256 
Flaxman, English sculptor, 1755-1826, 


Fleurus, French victory, 1794, 325 
Fleury, Cardinal, 1653-1743; minister, 

1726-1743, 227, 228, 234, 239, 244 
Fontaine, architect, 1762-1853, 280 
Fontainebleau, Renaissance chateau, 

Fontanges, favourite of Louis XIV, 

1661-1681, 157 

FONTENELLE, polygraph, 1657-1757, 
211, 219-222, 249, 250, 260, 261, 267, 



Fontenoy, French "victory, 1745, 227 
Fouche, minister under Napoleon, 

1759-1820, 309 
FOUQUET, superintendent of finances, 

1615-1680, 70, 71, 157, 166, 173, 

174, 175, 176, 238 
Fragonard, painter, 1732-1806, 280 
France, Anatole, 1844-1924, 36, 218, 

267, 328 

Francis, St., of Assisi, 56 
FEANCIS 1, 1494-1515-1547, 12, 30, 45, 

52, 60 seq., 87, 89, 96, 97, 98, 99, 102, 

104, 114, 115, 116, 124, 127, 152, 163, 

165, 177, 339 

Francis H, 1544-1559-1560, 107, 108 
Franco-Gallia, political treatise, Hot- 
man, 1573, 65 
Francois de Sales, St., Bishop, 1567- 

1622, 191 
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790, 118, 

253, 266, 289, 292 
Franks, 232 

Frederick II, the Great, King of Prus- 
sia, 1712-1740-1786, 265, 305, 330 
FREEMASONRY, 244, 291, 293 
FREE-THOUGHT, cf . Libertinism 
Free Trade, 180, 301, 302, 306 
French Revolution, Carlyle, 1837, 328 
French Revolution, Michelet, 1847- 

1853, 328 
Frequent Communion, treatise by A. 

Amauld, 1643, 195 
Friedland, Napoleon's victory, 1807, 

FRONDE, civil war, 1648-1653, 10, 127, 

129-130, 138, 144, 161, 165, 173, 

197, 200, 307 
Fulton, American inventor, 1765- 

1815, 301, 342 
Funck-Btrentano (The Ancient Re* gime), 

Furetiere, novelist and lexicographer, 

1619-1688, 141 

Gabriel, architect, d. 1782, 279 
Gaelic Literature, cf . Ossian 
Gaiffe, F. (L'Envers du Grand SiMe\ 5 
Galen, Greek anatomist, 212 
Galiani, Abbe, Italian "philosopher,** 

1728-1787, 299 
Galigai, Leonora, wife of Concini, d. 

1617, 53, 121 

Galland, Orientalist, 1646-1715, 288 
GALLICAJNISM, Bk. 1, Ch. V, 2, 95-99, 

Bk. H, Ch. V, 1, 187-189, 234, 319, 

Gambetta, Leon, 1838-1882, 243, 306 

Garganiua, 1st book of Rabelais, 1532- 
1535, 25, 33 

Gasquet, A., modem historian, 305 

Gassendi, Abbe, mathematician, phi- 
losopher, 1592-1655, 204 

Gautier, Theo., on Cyrano (Les Gro- 
tesques), 1811-1872, 143 

"Gavroche," in Hugo's Les Miserable*, 

Gazette de France, 1st French paper, 
1631, 241 

Geneva, 104 

GEOFFRIN, Mme. (Salon), 1699-1777, 

Geographical discovery, sixteenth cen- 
tury, 34 

eighteenth, 288 

Georges Dandin, comedy, Moliere, 
1668, 170 

Germany, 35, 102, 256 

Gerson, theologian, 1362-1428, 29 

Gessner, Swiss poet, 1730-1788, 289 

Gibbon, historian, 1737-1796, 262 

Gil Bias, novel, Lesage, 1715-1735, 208 

Glaber, Baoul, Burgundian chronicler, 
d. 1050, 27 

GOBELINS, tapestry works, 119, 182, 

Godeau, bishop, academician, 1605- 
1672, 213 

Goelle, district, 79 

Goethe, 1749-1832, 133, 212, 292, 324 

Golden Legend, 32 

Gombauld, poet, 1570-1666, 213 

Gondi, cf . RETZ 

Gongora, Spanish cuUist, 1561-1627, 

GOTHIC, 25, 30, 53, 56 

Gourmont, Remi de, critic, 36 

Gracchi, 326 

Gramont, Marshal de, 1604-1678, 153 

Grand Copht, cf . CagHostro 

Grasse, de (American War), 1722- 
1788, 299 

Great Cyrus (Ariamene\ romance, 
Mile, de Scudery, 164&-1653, 188- 

manism; Return to Antiquity; 
Quarrel of the Ancients and the 

GREEK: Empire (Byzantine), 28 
Language, 44 seq., 211, 282-284 
Literature, 44 seq., 282-284 
Philosophy, 44 seq. 

Greuze, painter, 1725-1805, 258 

Gribeauval (artillery), 1715-1789, 324 

GRIMM, correspondence, 1723-1807, 
253, 255, 271, 293 



GUILDS, cf . Corporations 
GuiSE-Lorraine, great family, IS, 62, 
107, 109, 115 

Pran^ois, Duke, reconquers Ca- 
lais, 1519-1563, 52 
Henry, Holy League, assassinated 

at Blois, 1550-1588, 109 
Guiton, Mayor of La Rochelle, 1585- 

1654, 126 

Gunpowder, 35, 62 
Gustavus-Adolphus of Sweden, 1594- 

1611-1632, 127 
Gustavus HI of Sweden, 1746-1771- 

1792, 252 

GUTON, Mme., Quietist, 1648-1717, 


Hanotaux, G., historian of Richelieu, 

Hansa Towns, 89 

Harvey, Wm., circulation of the blood, 
1578-1658, 212 

Hebrew language, 45 

Hegel, German philosopher, 1770- 
1831, 259 


Helvetius, "philosopher," 1715-1771, 
238, 253, 271 

HENAULT, President, histoiian and 
poet, 1685-1770, 244, 249, 251 

Henriad, epic, Voltaire, 1723, 114, 265 

Henry H, 1519-1547-1559, 12, 69, 71, 
104, 108, 333 

Henry IH, 1551-1574-1589, 17, 69, 87, 

HENRY IV (H. of Navarre), 1553- 
1589-1610, 10, 74, 75, 87, 90, 93, 
106, 107, 108, 113-120, 121, 122, 
123, 124, 125, 127 P 131, 132, 133, 
146, 151, 155, 163, 164, 165, 172, 
173, 182, 183, 190, 199, 200, 306 

Henry VIII of England, 1491-1509- 
1547, 102 

Heptameron, tales, Marguerite of Na- 
varre, 1559, 101, 137 

Herculaneum, 283 

Herder, historian, philosopher, 1744- 
1803, 292 

Hermits, cf . Port-Royal 

Herodotus, "father of History," 213 

Hildebrand (Gregory VII), 55 
Hippocrates, ancient physician, 212 

History of Oracles, cf . Oracles 
History of the Parliament of Paris, cf. 

Hoche, L., General, 1768-1797, 344 

Holbach, Baron, "philosopher,** 172S- 

1789, 253, 270, 309 
Holy Catholic League, cf . League 
Holy Chrism, 64 
Homer, 44, 47, 213, 214, 289 
"Honnete Romme," 204, 220 
Horace, Latin poet, 10, 47, 213 
Horace, tragedy, Corneille, 1640, 145 
Horatii, picture by L. David, 1785, 281 
Hospital, cf. L'Hospital 
Hotman, Francois: anti-absolutist ju- 
rist, 1524-1590, 65 
Houdon, sculptor, 1741-1828, 281 
Hugo, Victor, 1802-1885, 3, 7, 26, 123, 

283, 302, 328 

102-107, 116, 120, 123-125, 184, 

199-202, 203, 217, 234, 300 

p. 42 seq., 100, 105, 214 
Hundred Years' War, 13, 28, 37, 65, 

80, 88, 90, 108, 173 
Hus or Huss, John, reformer, 1369- 

1415, 29 
Hiitten, Ulrich von, reformer, 1488- 

1523, 55, 105 
Huysmans, 3. K. (.4 Rebours), 1848- 

1907, 36 
Hyde Park, London, 242 

Iambics, satires, A. Chenier, 283 
Ideologists, philosophers, 342 
Idyls: Gessner, 289; Chenier, 282 
Ile-de-France, province, 306 
Uluminati, various sects, 291292 
Imitation of Christ, 191 
"Immortals," forty, 140 
INDUSTRIAL ERA, 7, 78, 326 
INDUSTRY: sixteenth century, 80, 81 
Colbert, 172 seq. 
end of ancient regime, 300-301 
"Infame," Voltaire's war cry, 267 
Innocent X, pope from 1644 to 1655, 

Innocent XI, pope from 1676 to 1689, 


Inscription Maritime (Colbert), 178 
Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres (Acad- 
emy), 219 

Institute of France, 269, 325 
Institute of the Brothers of the Chris- 
tian Schools, 191 

Institute or Institution (Christian), 

treatise, Calvin, 1536-1540, 44, 103 

Insurrections: cf. Richelieu, Fronde, 

INTENDANTS, 127, 165, 338 



Introduction to Devoid Life, St. Fran- 
cois de Sales, 1608, 191 
Invalides (Soldiers* Home, and 

Church), 158 

ITALIAN, ITALY: Italian expeditions 
(sixteenth century), 50, 52 
Italian Influence, Bk. 1, Ch. H, 
III-IV-V, p. 48 seq., 133, 137 
Anti-Italianism, 49, 50 
Campaigns of Italy (Bonaparte), 


Fascism, 179 

Ivry (Eure), victory of Henry IV, 
1590, 114, 120 

JACOBIN, JACOBINISM, 153, 178, 244, 
281, 302, 339 

Jansenius, Cornelius, Bishop of 
Ypres, 1585-1638, 192, 194 

nauld, Pascal, Port-Royal, Provin- 
cials, Unigenitus), 145, 192, 193-198, 
201-202, 203, 216, 234, 307 

Jefferson, 1743-1826, 253 

Jemmapes, French victory, 1792, 325 

Jena or lena, Napoleon's victory, 
1806, 335 

Jer6me Bonaparte, 1784-1860, 341 

JESUITS: creation, 1534, 145, 187, 188, 
203, 216, 235, 266, 270, 291, 292, 307 
style, 54 

struggle with Jansenists, 196-198 
expulsion from France, 1761- 

1762, 198 

suppressed by Clement XTV, 
1773, 198, 235 

Joan of Arc, d. 1431, 65 

Job, sonnet by Benserade, 138 

Jodelle, dramatist, 1532-1573, 135 

Joinville (Guise-Lorraine), conspires 
against Henry IV, 116 

Joseph II of Austria, 1741-1765-1790, 

Josephine, Napoleon's Empress, 1763- 
1814, 342 

Jouffroy d'Abbans, inventor of steam- 
boat, 1751-1832, 301 

"Jourdain, Monsieur," in Moliere 
Bourgeois Gentilhomme, 1670, 170 

Julie, or the New Heloise, novel, Rous- 
seau, 1761, 263, 275 

Julie d'Angennes, daughter of Mme. 
de Rambouillet, 138 

Julie de Lespinasse, v. Lespinasse 

Jurieu, Protestant leader, 1637-1713, 
207, 217 


Kay, English inventor (with Highs, 

etc.), ca. 1764, 300 
King of Rome, Napoleon EC, Duke of 

Reichstadt, Aiglon, 1811-1832, 341 
King's Evil, 64 

Kingship, conception of, 63-66 
Kingston, Duke of, friend of Buffos, 


La Boetie (Voluntary Servitude), 1530- 
1563, 64 

La Brede, Montesquieu's seat, 255 

La Bruyere (Characters), 1645-1696, 
185, 207, 242, 297, 303 

La Chaussee, Nivelle de, "tearful" 
dramatist, 1692-1754, 245 

La Condamine, scientist, 1701-1774, 

La Fayette, Mme. de (Princess of 
Clevcs), 1634-1692, 139, 145, 246 

La Fayette, General, 1757-1834, 291, 
292, 299, 310, 338 

Laffemas, judge under Richelieu, 
1589-1650, 123 

La Fontaine (Fables), 1621-1695, 33. 
174, 215, 285 

Lakanal, education, 1762-1845, 326 

Lamarck (transformism), 1744-1829, 
269, 342 

Lamartine, poet and statesman, 1790- 
1869, 7, 282 

Lamballe, Princess de, friend of Marie- 
Antoinette, 1749-1792, 315 

LAMBERT, Mme. de, Salon, 1647-1733, 
140, 248, 249 

Lamoignon, parliamentary fampy, 
seventeenth - eighteenth centuries, 
73, 307 

Lamotte (Houdar) (Ancients and 
Moderns), 1672-1731, 214, 215 

Lancret, painter, 1690-1743, 257 

Languedoc, province, 126 

"La Palice" (or Palisse): proverbial 
for obviousness, 343 

La Perouse, navigator, 1741-1788, 288 

La Rochefoucauld (Maxims and Mem- 
oirs). 1613-1680, 138, 143, 157, 207 

La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, philan- 
thropist, 1747-1827, 294, 310 

La Rochelle, Huguenot sea port, 125, 

La Salle, St. Jean-Baptiste de, edu- 
cator, 1651-1719, 192 

La Savonnerie, carpets, 183 

Bk. 1, Ch. II, 1, p. 42 seq. t 148 

Mind, 93-94 



La Tour, pastel portraits, 1704-1788, 
52, 255, 257 

La Tremouille, Protestant family, con- 
verted, 200 

Laubardemont, judge under Richelieu, 
d. 1653, 128 

La Valliere, favourite of Louis XIV, 
1644-1710, 157, 191 

Lavisse, Ernest, historian, 1842-1922, 
150, 152, 155, 168, 184 

Lavoisier, financier and chemist, 1743- 
1794, 269, 316 

LAW, J., financial adventurer, 1671- 
1729, 236-237, 250 

LEAGUE (Holy Catholic), LEAGTJEBS, 
109, 115 

Learned Ladies (Femmes Samntes), 
comedy, Moliere, 1672, 211 

Le Bon, Dr. Gustave, modern poly- 
graph, 35 

Lebreton, publisher of Encyclopaedia, 

Le Bran, Ch., painter and art dictator, 
1619-1690, 159, 160, 183 

Lebrun, Ecouchard (Pindar), 1729- 
1807, 282, 283 

Leczinski-a, LeszczynsM-a, cf . Stanis- 
laus and Marie L. 

Le Doux, architect, 1736-1806, 280, 

LEF|IVRE d'Etaples, reformer, 1455- 
1537, 100-102, 103 

Legend, Henry IV, 118 
Richelieu, 123 
Napoleon, 332, 335, 345 

Legion of Honour, 1802, 338 

Legion of Honour Palace (Salm Resi- 
dence), 279 

Legists: theorists of French Monarchy, 

Leibnitz, philosopher, 1646-1716, 210, 

Leipzig, "battle of Nations," 1813, 335 

Lemaitre, J., critic, 1853-1914, 36 

Lenclos, Ninon de, 1620-1705, 203 

Lendtre, landscape architect, 1613- 
1700, 160 

Leo X, Medici, pope from 1513 to 
1521, 49 

Leonardo da Vinci, cf . Vinci 

Le Rond, cf . d'ALEMBERT 

Lesage (Turcaret, Gil Bias), 1668-1747, 

Lesdiguieres, Constable, 1543-1626; 
family converted, 200 

LESPINASSE, Julie de (Salon, Encyclo- 
ymdia), 1732-1776, 249, 251, 252 

Le Teflier, Michel, ininister, 16QS- 

1685, 166, 167 
Letizia Ramollino Bonaparte, 1750- 

Letourneur, translator of Shakespeare 

and Ossian, 1736-1788, 289 
Levasseur, Emile, economist, 1828- 

1911, 92 

Levassor, Michelet, Huguenot, 208 
Levis, Henri de, Duke de Ventadotir 

(Cabal of the Devout), 192 
Lewis, "Monk," 1775-1818, 286 
L'Hospital, Michel, Chancellor, 1507- 

1573, 108, 306 

LpEETiNES, 143, J2, 202-204, 215 
Lillo, English dra _oatist {George Barn* 

well), 1693-1739, 263 
Limoges, city, 299 
lionne, Hugues de, Foreign Affairs, 

1611-1671, 5, 160, 166 
Littre, positivist, lexicographer, 1801- 

1881, 141, 276 
Lives of Great Captains, etc., Bran- 

tdme, 69 
Livy, 48 

Locke, philosopher, 1632-1704 
Loire, river, region and chateaux, 80, 

63, 68 

Lom&nie, family converted, 200 

Lomenie de Brienne, Cardinal, minis- 
ter, 1727-1794, 317, 327 

Longueville, Mme. de (Fronde, Jan- 
senism), 1619-1679, 129, 197 

Lope de Vega, Spanish dramatist, 
1562-1635, 143 

Loretto, Santa Casa, 51 

Lorraine: province, 254 
family, cf . Guise 

Lorris, city on the Loire, William of, 
first part of Romance of the Rose, 33 

Los Angeles, Calif., 291 

Lotharingia, 61 

Louis VI the Fat, 1081-1108-1137, 60 

Louis IX (Saint), 1215-1226-1270, 33, 

64, 68, 96, 156, 190 

Louis X le Hutin, 1289-1314-1316, 

Louis XI, 1423-1461-1483, 9, 52, 61, 

65, 67, 69, 81, 88, 96 

Louis XII, 1462-1498-1515, 30, 33, 50, 
52, 60, 66, 67, 69, 89, 90, 156 

Louis XIII the Just, 1601-1610- 
1643, 14, 121-128, 136, 155, 173, 190, 
199, 227 

Loms XIV the Great, 1638-1643- 
1715, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 18, 
19, 20, 61, 63, 67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 
75, 114, 124, 127, 132, 136, 138, 143, 
144, Bk. II, Chaps. HI, IV, V, pp. 



150 seq., 206, 214, 215, 225, 228, 231, 

232, 233, 234, 236, 237, 244, 246, 

248, 256, 288, 297, 312, 333. 338, 

330, 340, 341, 344, 345 
Louis XV, 1710-1715-1774, 7, 65, 143, 

153, 154, 162, 183, 216, Bk. IH, Ch. 

I, 225 $eq. f 250, 258, 260, 295, 312, 

Louis XVI 1754-1774-1792-3, 7, 18. 

75, 78. 162, 180, 233, 294, 298, 312, 

315, 320, 322, 334 
Louis XVm, 1755-1814-5-1824, 311, 


Louis (Bonaparte), 1778-1846, 341 
Louis-Napoleon, cf . Napoleon HI 
Louis-Philippe, the Citizen-King, 

1773-1830-1848-1850, 301, 329, 

337, 342 

Louis-Quinze Style, 256 
Louis-Seize Style, 279. 284, 342 
Louise de la Misericorde, cf . La Val- 

Louise of Savoy, mother of Francis I, 

Louvois, war minister, 1641-1691, 160, 

166, 179 
Louvre, Palace, 12, 54, 68, 158, 213, 

Luce de Lancival, dramatist, 1764- 

1810, 282 

Luchaire, historian, 1846-1908, 305 
Lucien (Bonaparte), 1775-1840, 341 
Lucon, Richelieu's bishopric, 121 
Lucretius, Latin philosophical poet, 

43, 268, 276, 282 
Ludwig, E., biographer, 832 
Lulli, musician, 1633-1687, 156, 160 
Luneville, 254, 255, 265 
Luther, Martin, reformer, 1483-1546, 

55, 98, 101, 102, 105 
Luxembourg, Garden in Paris, 242 
Luynes, d* Albert de, minister of Louis 

Xni, 1578-1621, 121, 125 
Lyons, city: 82, 116, 171; centre of 

printing, 46, 81 

school of poetry, 47, 51 
silk industry, 81 


Mably, Abbe\ philosopher, 1709-1785, 

Machiavelli (The Prince}, 1469-1527, 

Macpherson (OssiAN), 1738-1796, cf. 


Madeleine Church, 1764^1842, 280 
Madelin, L., modern historian, 8, 67, 

150, 312 

Madrid: Francis ! prisoner, 1525, 66 
treaty of, 1526, 62 
ch&teau, 68; Napoleon's troops in, 

Mahomet, or Fanaticism, tragedy, Vol- 
taire, 1741, 245 

Maillart* judge under Francis I, 71 

Maine, Duchess du, 1676-1753, 247 

Maintenon, Mme. de (Francpise d*- 
Auxbigne, Mme. Scarron), 1635- 
1719, 144, 157, 158, 190, 200, 226, 

Mairet, dramatist (Sopkomsbe), 1604- 
1686, 135 

Malebranche, philosopher, 1638-1715, 

Malesherbes, protector of "Philos- 
ophers," 1721-1794, 299 

MAUEIERBE, poet, 1555-1628, 13, 132- 
134, 137, 143, 148, 213 

Malmaison, country seat of Napoleon 
and Josephine, 342 

Man with the Hoe, painting by Millet, 
and poem by E. Markham, 207 

Manon Lescavi, novel. Abbe Prevost, 
1731, 263 

Mansard, architects: Francois, 159&- 
1666; Hardouin, 1656-1708, 160 

Marat, J. B.. revolutionist, 1743-1793, 
281, 283, 318, 322, 323 

Marcel, Etienne, Provost of Mer- 
chants, d. 1358, 113 

Marco Polo, cf . Polo 

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor and philos- 
opher, 195 

Marengo, Bonaparte's victory, 1800 

Navarre, 1492-1549, 67, 101-102, 

de Valois, first wife of Henry IV, 
1552-1615, 87 

MARIE ANTOINETTE, queen, 1755- 
1793, 289, 311-312, 315, 317 

Marie Leczinska, queen, 1703-1768, 

Marie de Medici, queen, 1573-1642, 
53, 121, 173 

Marignano, victory of Francis 1, 1515, 
8, 12, 17, 66 

Marigny, Director of Fine Arts, 1727- 
1781, 230, 281 

Marini (or Marino), Italian poet 
(Adone), 1569-1625, 143 

Marion Delorme, drama, Victor Hugo, 
1829, 123 

MAHIVAUX, dramatist and novelist, 
1688-1762, 245, 247, 260, 263 

Markham, Edwin, American poet, b. 
1852, 207 



Marlborough, 1650-1722, 386 
Marmontel f polygraph, 1723-1799, 

253, 270 
MAROT, Clement, poet, 1495-1544, 32, 

33, 51, 71, 101, 104 
Marriage of Figaro, comedy, Beau- 

marchais, 1784, 246, 290 
Marseilles, city and port, 180, 254 
Marsh (Marais): the moderates in the 

Convention, 325 
Martinez Pascual (or de Pasquales), 

Spanish theosophist, ca. 1715-1779, 


Massena, General, 1756-1817, 334, 341 
Mathiez, A., historian of the Revolu- 
tion, 328 

Maupeou, Chancellor, 1714-1792; re- 
forms Parliaments, 1771, 75, 164, 

231, 233, 307, 308 
Maurepas, minister, 1701-1781, 299, 

Maurras, Charles, royalist, b. 1868, 

114, 161, 302, 329 
Mayenne, Duke, head of the League, 

1554-1611, 115 
MAZARIN, Cardinal, 14, 54, 73, 114, 

127, 129-130, 131, 154, 161, 163, 

164, 166, 173, 174, 176, 178, 197, 

203, 216, 333 

Meaux, city, 115, 116; group of, 101 
Medea, tragedy, Cprneille, 1635, 144 
Medici, cf. Catherine, Leo, Marie de* 
Memoirs : Mme. d'Ephiay, 253 
Cardinal de Retz, 129 
Richelieu, 123 
St. Simon, cf. St. Simon 
on the Regeneration of France, 

Boulainvilliers, 232 
Menipp6e, cf . Satire 
MERCANTILISM, cf . Colbert 
Mercier, L. S., author (Tableau of 

Paris), 1740-1814, 242 
MerccBur (Guise), 1558-1602, 115, 126 
Mercure de France, literary periodical, 

from 1672, 231 

M erope, tragedy, Voltaire, 1743, 245 
Meslier, cf . Cur6 Meslier 
MESMER (animal magnetism), 1733- 

1815, 292, 293, 294 
Mesocracy, 88 
Metallurgy, 80-81, 337 
METHOD, Discourse on Method, 1637, 

cf . Descartes 
Metra, cf . Funck-Brentano's L'Ancien 

RSgime, 242 

Metric System, 1790-1801, 325 
Metternich, Austrian statesman, 1773- 

1859, 344 

Metz, city in Lorraine, 52, 201, 227 
Meulen, Van der, battle painter, 1634- 

1690, 159 
Meung, city on Loire; John of, second 

part of Romance of the Rose, 29, 33 
Michelet, historian, 1798-1874, 6, 14, 

67, 140, 150, 227, 296, 302, 328 
Mignet, historian, 1796-1884, 123 
Milan, city and duchy, 50 
Milton, poet, 1608-1674, 263 
MINISTERS, 165, 166, 167 
Mirabeau, Marquis, 1715-1789, 310 

Count, 1749-1791, 308, 310, 315 
Miracle plays, cf . Mysteries 
Missi Dominici, 127 
Missions (Catholic), 187 
Mississippi, cf . LAW 


Mole, parliamentary family, 307 
Mole, Count, 1781-1855, 339 
MOLI^RE, dramatist, 1622-1673, 9, 19, 

99, 139, 140, 143, 144, 151, 153, 156, 

157, 160, 162, 170, 190, 192, 204, 

211, 212, 213, 215, 220, 246, 288 
Mondain, poem, Voltaire, 1736, 274 
Monk (Ambrosio), "Gothic" novel, 

Lewis, 1795, 286 
MONTAIGNE, Michel (Essays), 1533- 

1592, 8, 13, 19, 110, 132, 134, 137, 

145, 146, 147, 193, 202, 204, 215, 

216, 220, 262 
Montauban, Huguenot stronghold, 


Montausier, 1610-1690, 138 
Montbard, chateau of Buff on, 255, 268 
Montcenis, ironworks, 300 
Montespan, Mme. de, favourite of 

Louis XIV, 1640-1707, 156, 157. 

MONTESQUIEU, "philosopher" (Per- 

sian Letters, Spirit of Laws), 1689- 

1755, 15, 216, 241, 242, 247, 255, 

259-277, 288, 302, 303, 336 
Montgolfier Brothers, inventors of 

balloons: J., 1740-1810; E., 1745- 

1799, 301 
Montluc, general and memorialist, 

1501-1577, 13, 90 
Montmorency, great family: 

Anne, Constable, 1493-1567, 71, 

Henry, rebels against Richelieu, 

1595-1632, 122, 126 
cf. Bouteville, 126 
Montpensier, Mile, de (Fronde), 1627- 

1693, 129 
Montyon Prizes for Virtue, 1782, 294 



More, Tliomas (Uiopia), 1480-1535, 


Moreau, General, 1763^1813, 334 
Moreri (Historical Dictionary), 1643- 

1680, 217 

Morvan, district in Burgundy, 79 
ML St. Genevieve (Sorbonne), 29 
Mozart, musician, 1756-1791, 252 
Museum of Natural History, 326 
Mysteries prohibited, 1548, 135 


Nancy, city, 254 
Nantes, city, 116, 254 

Edict, 13, 14, 93, 109, 118, 125, 

Revoked, 14, 154, 193, 201, 207, 


Naples, 50, 330, 336 
NAPOLEON I, 1769-1804-1814-15- 

1821, 9, 10, 11, 12, SO, 72, 73, 114, 

118, 123, 152, 153, 157, 158, 159, 

161, 165, 166, 167, 178, 189, 195, 

206, 207, 210, 215, 277, 280, 284, 

289, 301, 324, 326, 329, 331-346 
Napoleon, an Outline, Gen. Ballard, 


Napoleon, E. Ludwig, 332 
Napoleon III, 1808-1852-1870-1873, 

7, 120, 153, 180, 301, 343 
Nation, American periodical, 260 

cf. Constituent 
Nattier, painter of portraits, 1685- 

1766, 257 

Natural History, Buffon, 268, 271 
Natural Son, drama, Diderot, 1771, 


NATURE, return to, 272-273 
Navarre, cf . Marguerite and Henry of 
NECKER, financier, minister, 1732- 

1804, 75, 299, 308, 316, 317 
Necker, Mme. (Salon), 1739-1794, 253 
Necker, Germaine, cf . Mme. de Stael 
Neo-Platonism, cf. Plato 
Nerac, 102 
Nesle Sisters, favourites of Louis XV 

(Mailly, Vintimille, Chateauroux), 


Netherlands, 89, 100, 108 
Neuilly, 68 
New Republic, American periodical, 

Newton, scientist, 1642-1727, 210, 

211, 262 
Nicole, Jansenist moralist, 1625 or 

1628-1695, 198 
Nicomkde, tragedy, Corneille, 1651, 


Ninon de FEnclos, cf . L'Enclos 
Nivelle de la Chaussee, cf . La Chaus- 
Noaflles, archbishop of Paris, cardinal, 

1651-1729, 198 

NOBILITY, NOBLES: under Francis 3, 

Henry IV, 115 

Bichelieu, 126 

Louis XIV, 161-162 

Louis XV, 230 

Louis XVI, 308-311 
Normandy, 30, 115, 133, 192 
Notables, Assemblies, 163 

Kouen, 117; 1787, 317 
Nouvellistes (newsmongers), 242-243 
Noyon (Calvin), 103 
Nymwegen, Peace, 1678-1679, 206 


Odeon, classical architecture, 1782, 


(Edipus, tragedy, Voltaire, 1718, 245 v 
Oise, 52 
Olier, founder St. Sulpice Seminary, 

1608-1657, 191 
Oracles, History of, Fontenelle, 1687, 

Oratory, French branch founded by 

Beralle, 1611, 191 
Orders: Perfectibilists, 292 
St. Louis, 338 
Legion of Honour, 338 
Free-Masonry, 244, 291, 293 
Ordinances: Louis X, 304 

Villers-Cotterets, 1539, 44, 85; 
Colbert's, 178, 179, 181; of 
1781, 311 
Organic Articles (added to Concordat 

of 1801), 189, 339 
Organizer of Victory: cf. Carnot, La- 

Orient, Oriental Tales, Orientalism, 

286, 344 
Origins of Contemporary France. Tame, 

1876-1894, 6, 302 
Orleans, city, 60, 103, 116 
ORLEANS family: Gaston, 1608-1660, 

cf. Philip, regent, 1674-1723. 15 
Louis-Philippe (Egalite), 1747- 

1793 15, 244, 291, 310. 
cf. Louis-Philippe, King, 1773- 


OSSIAN, Macpherson, 1760; translated 
by Letourneur, 1776, 4, 263, 286, 
288-289, 342 
Ovid, 32, 43 



Psestum, 286 

Pajou, sculptor, 1730-1800, 281 
Palais-Royal, garden, 241, 242, 243 
Palissy, Bernard, artist, ca. 1510-1590, 

88, 94 
Pantagruel, Rabelais, 1533-1552 (Vth 

Book, 1564), 25, 34, 77, 105, 106 
Pantagruelion, 39, 110, 209 
Pantheon (St. Genevieve), by Soufflot, 

11, 81, 277, 279, 280, 302, 319 
Papacy, cf . Popes 
"Papefigue, Papimane," in Pantagruel, 

Bk. IV, Rabelais, 100 
Papin, Denis, inventor steam naviga- 
tion, 1647- ca. 1712, 301 
Parc-aux-Cerfs (Louis XV), 230 
Parc-Monceau, Paris (ruins), 286 
Pare, Ambroise, physician, 1517-1590, 

PABIS, city, 52, 60, 82, 103, 109, 115, 

117, 171, 182, 191, 195, 198, 201, 242, 

243, 254, 255, 280, 335 

cf . University, Parliament 
Paris Brothers, financiers; Duverney, 

1684-1770, 237 
Paris, Deacon, Jansenist, 1690-1727, 

Parliament, History of ike, of Paris, 

Voltaire, 1769, 307 
PARLIAMENTS, especially Parliament 

of Paris: 72-74, 96, 117-118, 120, 

139, 203, 233, 254, 292, 306-308, 311, 


Fronde, 129 

Louis XIV, 154, 163-164, 174, 179 
Gallicanism, 188, 189 
Jansenism, 198, 234 
Maupeou's reform, 233, 307 
suppression, 308 
Parma, Duke of, Alexander Farnese, 

1545-1592, 120 
Parthenon, 159 
PASCAL, Blaise (Provincials, Thoughts), 

1623-1662, 9, 52, 57, 140, 145, 187, 

191, 193-198, 204-205, 215, 216, 220, 

235, 262 

Pasquales, cf . Martinez Pascual 
Pasteur, L., scientist, 1822-1895, 269 
Pater, painter, 1695-1736, 257 
Patrizzi, Italian philosopher and poet, 

1529-1597, 55 
Paul, St., 148, 196 
Paul, Vincent de, cf . Vincent 
Paulet, financier; Paulette, tax, 1604, 

Pavia, defeat of Francis 1, 1525, 66, 71, 


Pays, small districts, 79, 175 
PEASANTS, 79, 119, 185, 188, 207, 327- 

Penguin Island, satirical history, A. 

France, 1908, 6 

Percier, architect, 1764-1838. 280 
Peres (That Napoleon Never Existed), 

d. 1840, 345 
Perfectibilists, 292 
Pericles, 49 
Perrault, Charles (Tales, Ancients and 

Moderns), 1628-1703, 212-215, 221, 

Perrault, Claude, architect, 1613-1688, 

54, 212 

Persian Letters, Montesquieu, 1721, 

242, 247, 263, 288 
Peru, silver mines, 91 
Petit Trianon, Louis-Seize style, 279 
Petite-Provence, Tuileries Gardens, 

Petrarch, poet and humanist, 1304- 

1374, 44, 50, 53 
Philip IV the Fair, 1268-1285-1314, 

29, 64, 96, 114 
Philip II of Spain, 1527-1598, 71, 154, 


Philip of Orleans, cf . Regent 
Philosopher Without Knowing It, 

drama, Sedaine, 1765, 170, 246 

187, 211, 218, 242, 247, 251-253, 

259-277, 302, 329 
Philosophical Dictionary, Voltaire, 

1764, 218, 270 

"Physis," in Rabelais, 106. 272 
Picardy, Northern province, 127 
Piccoli, Rafaello, modern Italian 

scholar, 49 

Pierrefonds, castle, 31 
Pigalle, sculptor, 1714-1785, 281 
Pindar, 47. 50, 282 
Pindar, cf. Lebrun 
Piranesi, architect, engraver, 1720- 

1778, 281, 286 
Piron, dramatist and wit, 1689-1773, 

Pisan, Christine de, under Charles V f 


Pius VII, pope from 1800 to 1823, 341 
Place: de la Concorde, 279; du Carrou- 
sel, 280; des Victoires, 158; Ven- 

ddme, 158 

"Plain": the Moderates in the Con- 
vention (also "Marsh"), 325 
PLATO, PLATONISM, 34, 44, 46-47, 54, 

55, 59, 148, 213 
Plautus, Latin dramatist, 48 



Pleasures of ike Enchanted Isle, Mo- 
lifcre, 1664, 156 

PUBIAD, group of Renaissance poets, 
47, 132, 143 

Plessis-lez-Tours, Louis XI's residence, 

Plurality of Worlds, Fontenelle, cL 

Plutarch, 47, 50, 285 

Poi(c)tiers, dr. Diana 

Poincar4 Henri, mathematician, 
1854-1912, 210, 220 

Poincare, Raymond, statesman, 1860, 

Poinsinet de Sivry (The Circle), 1735- 
1769. 247 

Poisson, cf . Pompadour and Marigny 

Poland, 304, 324 

Polignac, friend of Marie-Antoinette, 
1749-1793, 315 

Political Party (Politiques) and Henry 
IV, 109, 114 

Political Testament, Richelieu, 123 

Polo, Marco, traveller, 1254-1323, 34 

Polyeucte, tragedy, Corneille, 1643 f 
138, 144, 145, 191 

Polysynodical System, under Regency, 

Polytechnic School, 325 

POMPADOUR, Antoinette Poisson d'Eti- 
oles, Marquise de, favourite of 
Louis XV, 1721-1764, 15, 16, 157, 
208, 227, 228-229, 235, 239, 249, 256, 
257, 259, 267, 270, 271, 281, 285 

Pompeii, 283, 284 

POPES: Babylonian Captivity, 28 
Gregory VII, 55 
Leo X, 1513-1521, 49 
Innocent X, 1644-1655, 195 
Clement IX, 1667-1669, 197 
Innocent XI, 1676-1689, 188 
Benedict XIV, 1740-1768, 250 
Clement XIV, 1769-1774, 235 
Pius VII, 1800-1823, 341 

Porcheres, early academician, 140 

PORT-ROYAL, Abbey, cf . Arnauld, Jan- 
senism, 190, 191, 192, 193-198, 234 

Portugal, 330 

Portuguese, 34 

Positivism, 276 

Potosi, mines, 91 

"Poule au Pot," Henry TV's wish, 119 

"Pourceaugnac," in Monsieur de Pour- 
ceaugnac, comedy, Moliere, 1669, 

Pragmatic Sanction: Louis IX (apocry- 
phal), 96 

Bourges, 1438, 96 

PREOETJBES, Preciosity, 139, 143, 211, 

Predeuses Ridicules, comedy, Moliere, 
1659, 139, 211 

Predestination, cf. Calvin and Jan- 

Prejudice in Fashion, "tearful" com- 
edy, La Chaussee, 1735, 245 

PRE-RoMANnciBM, 286 seq. 

Presentation of the Eagles, painting by 
L. David, 281 

Prevost, Abbe (M anon Lescauf), 1697- 
1763, 263 

Primatice, Italian artist, 1504-1570, 

PRIMITIVISM, 273-274, 285 

Prince, Machiavelli, 1532, 56 

Prince, Guez de Balzac, 1631, 134 

Princess of Clkves, novel, Mme. de La 
Fayette, 1678, 145 

PRINTING, 33, 35, 81 

Privy Council, 72 

Procope, Cafe, 243 

PROGRESS-IVISM, cf. Pantagraelism, 
37-40, 209 seq., 273 seq.; cf. Con- 


PROTESTANT-ISM, 102-107, 124, 193, 
199-202, 310, 320 

Provence, Count of, cf . Louis XVHI 

Provincial Letters, anti-Jesuit pam- 
phlets, Pascal, 1657, 195, 216 

Pucette, epic, Chapelain, 1656, 142 

Pucette, licentious mock-heroic poem, 
Voltaire, 1755, 142, 239, 266 

Pussort, Colbert's uncle, judicial re- 
forms, 1615-1697, 179 

Pyramids, 159 

Pyrenees, peace with Spain, 1659, 180 

Pyrrhonian, -ism, cf. Montaigne 


Quarrel: of the Ancients and the Mod- 
erns, 19, 212-215, 216, 221, 276, 278 

of the Cid, 141-142 

Quattrocento, 53 

Queen of Navarre, cf. Marguerite 

Queens: of Prance, cf. Anne of Brit- 
tany, Catherine de Medici, Mar- 
guerite of Valois, Marie de Medici, 
Anne of Austria, Marie Leczinska, 
Marie- Antoinette 

Quesnay, economist (Physiocrat, 
"laissez-faire")r 1694-1774, 270 

QUIETISM, 198-199 

Quincampoix, street (Law's bank), 237 



RABELAIS, ca. 1483-1553, 3, 8, 12, Bk. 

1, Chaps. I-H, 38-41, 43, 46, 50, 51, 

55, 99, 100, 101, 102, 105, 106, 132, 

134, 137, 202, 209, 210, 214, 215, 272, 

273, 276 

Racan, poet, 1589-1670, 137, 143, 213 
Racine, dramatist, 1639-1699, 20, 33, 

48, 135, 160, 191, 196, 198, 208, 245, 

Radcliffe, Mrs. Ann, "terrifying" 

novels, 1764-1823, 286 
Radicalism, 148, 222, 261 
Raison d'Etat, 123 
RAMBOUILLET, Marquise de, 1588- 

1665, and HOTEL DE, 54, 137, 140, 

143, 145, 246, 248 
Rameau, musician, 1683-1764, 252 
Rameau' s Nephew, sketch by Diderot, 


Ramus, rationalist, 1515-1572, 44 
Ranee, Abbe, reforms Trappists, 1626- 

1700, 192 

RATIONALISM, 8, 145-149, 209 
Ravaillac, assassin of Henry IV, 1578- 

1610, 119 
Raynal, Abbe, philosophical historian, 

1713-1796, 253, 309 
REASON, 8, 19, 209, 261. 278, 290, 304 
Rebellions, popular, 128, 185 
Reflections on the Romans, St. Evre- 

mond, 216 
REFORMATION, Bk. 1, Ch. V, pp. 93 

REFORMS, cf. Colbert, 177-181; Mau- 

peou, 307; Turgot, 299-300; Con- 
vention, 325; Napoleon, 337 
Regence, Cafe, 243 
REGENCY, period, 1715-1723, 15, 225- 

227, 228, 229, 231, 236, 245, 248, 257 
REGENT, Philip, duke of Orleans, 15, 

203, 208, 225-227, 229, 231, 232, 233, 

234, 236, 238, 250, 260 
Regionalism, 338 
Regnier, Mathurin, poet, 1573-1613, 

13, 133, 143, 213 

Regrets, poems, by Du Bellay, 1559, 49 
RELIGION, cf. Bk. 1, Ch. V; Bk. II, 

Ch. V, 234-235; Bk. Ill, Ch. VI 
Religious Wars, 107-110, 173 
Remarks on the French Language, Vau- 

gelas, 1647, 134 
Renan, Ernest, historian, 1823-1892, 

Renaudot, Th., founder of French 

journalism, 1586-1653, 241 
Rentiers, 176, 181 

Republic, Jean Bodin, 79, 90 
sance, 42 seq., 101 

(6) End of Ancient Regime, 278 

seq., 345 
RETZ, Paul de Gondi, Cardinal 

(Fronde, Memoirs'), 1613-1679, 129, 

143, 157 

REVOCATION of Edict of Nantes, 1685, 

14, 154, 193, 201, 207, 234 
REVOLUTION, Bk. Ill, Chs. V, VI, VII, 

cf. Carlyle, Michelet, Taine; Sorel, 

Tocqueville; Dickens, Hugo, A. 


Reynart the Fox, mediaeval romance, 33 
Rheims, 174 
Rhineland, 333 
Richardson, English novelist, 1689- 

1761, 263, 289 
Richelet, lexicographer, 141 
RICHELIEU, Cardinal, 1585-1642, 5, 8, 

54, 62, 121-128, 131, 137, 139, 140, 

141, 144, 148, 161, 163, 165, 173, 

182, 194, 199, 200, 333 ^ 
Rigaud, Hyacinthe, portraitist, 1659- 

1743, 151 

Rivarol, wit, 1753-1801, 248 
Robert, Hubert, painter, 1733-1808, 

281, 286 
ROBESPIERRE, revolutionist, 1758- 

1794, 10, 16, 123, 267, 275, 281, 285, 

318, 323, 325, 326, 337 
Rochambeau (American War), 1725- 

1807, 299 

Rococo Style, 256, 279 
Rocroy, victory of Conde, 1643, 127, 

Rodogune, tragedy, Corneille, 1645, 


Rohan: great family, converted, 200 
Protestant leader, 1579-1638, 125 
Cardinal (Diamond Necklace), 

1734-1803, 309, 312^ 
Roman Antiquities, Piranesi, 281 
Roman Comique, Scarron, 144 
Romance of the Rose, mediaeval poem, 

29, 32, 33 

Romanesque Architecture, 27 
ROMANTICISM, beginnings, 7, 8, 277, 

286 seq., 345 
Rome, 35, 51, 54, 59, 61, 64, 137, 187, 

199, 280, 320, 321 
RONSARD, leader of Pleiad poets, 1524- 

1585, 11, 32, 33, 47, 50, 58-59, 64, 

99 133 

Roosevelt, Theo., 1858-1919, 118 
Rosicrucians, 292, 293 
Rosny, cf. Sully 



Kosso, Italian painter, 1494-1541, 68 
Rostand, Ed., dramatist, 1868-1918, 

140, 143 
Eotrou, dramatist, 160&-1650, 144, 

Kotunda of La Villette, by Le Doux, 


Rouen, Assembly of Notables, 117 
Rousseau, J. B., poet, 1671-1741, 33 
ROUSSEAU, J. J., "philosopher/* 1712- 

1778, 7, 16, 54, 123, 140, 222, 238, 

241, 246, 251, 253, 254, 259-277, 

284, 285, 287, 290, 302, 307, 309, 

315, 319, 336, 342 
Roussel, G., reformer, group of Meaux, 

d. 1550, 101 
ROYAL: POWER, Bk. 1, Ch. Ill, 1, 60- 

66, 113-120, 124, 151 
Manufactures, 182 
Rubens, Flemish painter, 1577-1640, 


Rue Quincampoix, cf. Quincampoix 
Ruins, craze for, 286 

Saar (Sarre) Valley, 335 

St. Amant, poet, 1594-1661, 143 

St. Bartholomew's Night, massacre of 
Huguenots, Aug. 23, 1572, 108, 122 

St. Claude, Abbey, 300 

St-Cyran, Abbe de (Duvergier de 
Hauranne, Jansenist), 1581-1643, 

St. Denis, Abbey, 97, 226; Gate, 158 

Sainte-Beuve, critic, 1804-1869, 217 

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, ca. 1242-1248, 

St. Etienne-du-Mont Renaissance 
Church, 31, 58 

St. Eustache, Renaissance Church, 30, 

SAINT-EVREMOND, society writer, 
1610-1703, 138, 216, 219 

St. Genevieve: cf. Mount ; and Pan- 

St. Germain: Renaissance chateau, 68 
Louis XIV flees to, 161 
Declaration of, 200 

SAINT-GERMAIN, Count, "man of mys- 
tery," d. 1780, 293 

St. Gobain, glass works, 183 

St. Martin, Gate, 158 

SAINT-MARTIN, the "Unknown Phi- 
losopher," 1743-1803, 292 

St. Medard, Church, 235 

Saint-Pierre, Abbe (Perpetual Peace), 
1658-1743, 244 

Saint-Pierre, Bemardin (Paid et Vir- 
ginie), 1737-1814, 267, 288 

SAINT-SIMON, memorialist, 1675-1755, 
18, 84, 152, 160, 226, 232, 233, 2S7, 

St. Sulpice, Seminary (Olier), 191 

, Church (Servandoni), 279 

Salentum, Utopia in Fenelon's Tdem- 
achus, 231, 237 

Salm, cf . Legion of Honour 

SALONS, 137, 246-253 

Sanctis, de, Italian historian, 1818- 

Sannazaro, Italian poet (Arcadia), 
1458-1530, 54 

Sans-Souci, palace near Potsdam, 255, 

Santa Casa, Loretto, 51 

Sarrazra, poet, 1603-1654, 218 

Satire Menippee, 1594, IS, 109 

Savoyard Vicar (Confession of Faith) in 
Rousseau's Emile, 309, 342 

Scaliger, Italian scholar (Poetics), 
1484-1558, 55 

Scarron, Paul, burlesque poet, drama- 
tist and novelist, 1610-1660, 144 

Scarron, Mme., cf . Mme. de Mainte- 

Sceaux, Court of Duchess du Maine, 
247, 265 

SCEPTICISM, cf . Montaigne, Charron, 
Descartes, Libertinism, "Philos- 

Sceve, Maurice, Lyonnese poet, d. ca. 
1562, 47 

Schism, Great (1378-1429), 28 

Scholasticism, survival, 29 

School for Wives, comedy, Moliere, 
1662, 170 

SCIENCE, 210, 267-272 

Science and Hypothesis, Henri Poin- 

Sciences, Academy of, 219, 222 

Scott, Sir Walter, historical novels, 
1771-1832, 4, 263, 289 

Scudery, Georges de, poet, 1601-1668, 

Scudery, Madeleine de, novelist, Salon 
and Precieuse, 1607-1701, 138, 139, 
143,145 . 

Sebonde, Apology for Raymond de, in 
Montaigne's Essays 

Second Empire, 37, 243, 301, 317 

Sedaine, poet and dramatist, 1719- 
1797, 170, 246 . 

Se"e, Henri, modern economic his- 
torian, 168 

Seguier, parliamentary family, 307 

Seine, river, 68, 68, 301 



Semblancay, King's treasurer, 1457- 

1527, 70, 71 
S&niramis, tragedy, Voltaire, 1748, 


Seneca, Roman tragic poet, 48, 135 
Sentiments of the Academy on ike Cid, 

1637, 141-142 
Separation of Church and State, 1794, 

326;1905, 98 

September Massacres, 1792, 323, 329 
Septimus Severus, Arch, 280 
Serfdom, 300 
Serres, Olivier de, agronomist, 1539- 

1619, 119 

Servandoni, architect, 1695-1766, 279 
Seven Years' War, 1756-1763, 298 
Sevigne, Marquise de (Letters), 1626- 

1796, 137, 139, 152, 156, 162, 171, 

174, 185, 198, 246 
Seyssel, Claude de, historian (Lou- 

anges de Louis XII), ca. 1450-1520, 

Shaftesbury, English philosopher, 

1671-1713, 263 
Shakespeare, 1564-1616, 4, 160, 263, 


Shaw, G. B., b. 1856, 259 
Siege of Calais, tragedy, du Belloy, 

1765, 246, 287 

Sierke, German historian, 291 
Sieves, Abbe (What is ike Third Es- 
tate*), 1748-1836, 232, 246, 309 
Sighs of Enslaved France, Jurieu or 

Levassor, 1689, 207 
Silk industry, 81, 201 
Sisters of Charity (St. Vincent de 

Paul), 191 
Sisters of the Visitation (St. Francois 

de Sales), 191 
"Skimpole, Harold,** in Dickens's 

Bleak House, 215 
Social Contract, Rousseau, 1762, 123, 

SOCIETY, cf. H6tel de Rambouillet, 

and Bk. Ill, Ch. II, 240 seq. 
Soissons, Count, 1556-1612, 115 
Somme, river, 52 
Sophocles, 48 
Sophonisbe, tragedy (1st regular), 

Mairet, 1634, 135 
SORBONNE, theological school, 29, 37, 

40, 45, 95, 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 195 
Sorel, Agnes, favourite of Charles VII, 

1422-1450, 157 
Sorel, Albert, historian, 1842-1906, 8, 


"Sotenville," in Moliere's Georges Dan- 
din, 1668, 162 

Soufflot, architect (Pantheon), 1709- 
1780, 31, 279, 282 

SPAIN, 55, 91, 108, 115, 116, 125, 127, 
129, 135, 143-144, 191, 200, 330, 
336, 341 

Spanish Succession, War, 1701-1714, 

Spectator, Marivaux, 1722-1723, 263 

Spengler (Decline of the West), 18 

Spirit of Christianity (Genie du Chris- 
tianisme), Chateaubriand, 1802, 342 

Spirit of Laws (Esprit des Lois), Mon- 
tesquieu, 1748, 15, 247, 263, 264 

Stael, Mme. de (Mme. Necker's salon), 
1766-1817, 253 

Stanford University, a modern Thel- 

Stanislaus Leczynski, King of Poland, 
1677-1766, 254, 265 

Stanislaus Poniatowski, King of Po- 
land, 1732-1798, 252 

STATES GENERAL: 65-66, 163 
1614, 121 
1789, 308, 309, 317, 327 

Sterne, Lawrence, 171SJ-1768, 289 

Strachey, Lytton, English biographer, 

Strafford, Lord, 1593-1641, 306 

Strasbourg, taken 1681, 207, 309 

Suffren, naval commander, 1726-1788, 

SULLY, Maximilien de Bethune, Baron 
de Rosny, Due de, Henry IV f s min- 
ister, 155&-1641, 90, 94, 116, 119, 
120, 165, 172, 175, 199; family con- 
verted, 200 

Supreme Being, Celebration, 1794, 323 

Suresnes, near Paris, 80 

Swedenborg, mystic, 1688-1772, 292 

Swift, Dean, 1667-1745, 99, 214 

System of Nature, d'Holbach, 1770, 253 

Tableau of Paris, S. Mercier, 1781- 

1788, 242 
Tacitus, 43, 285 

Tailhade, Laurent, decadent poet, 36 
TAILLE, tax, 89, 119, 177 
Taine, Hippolyte, historian and critic, 

1828-1893, 6, 8, 160, 195, 261, 272, 

302, 328 
Tale of Two Cities, historical romance, 

Dickens, 1859, 297, 298, 328 
Tallentyre, S. (ps.), Life of Voltaire, 

Talleyrand, bishop, statesman, 1754- 

1838, 294, 295, 309, 344 



Tallien, leader Thermidorian reaction, 

1767-1820, 323 

Mme., 1773-1835, 284, 285 
Tancrbde, tragedy, Voltaire, 1760, 287 
Taproban (Ceylon), 39 
Tartufe, comedy, Moliere, 1664-1667- 

1669, 19, 151, 192, 193, 204, 215 
Tasso, Italian poet, 1544-1595, 133 
Taylor, H. O., modern historian, 26 
Telemackus, pedagogical romance, 

Fenelon, 1699, 231, 232 
Temple (Venddme, Grand Prior), 203, 


Temple, Sir William, 1628-1699, 214 
TENCIN, Mme. de (Salon), 1685-1749, 


Tencin, Cardinal, 1679-1758, 250 
Tenderness, map of (k Tendre), in 

Cttlie, Melle de Scudery, 139 
Tennyson, A., English poet, 1809- 

1892, 296 

Terence, Latin comic writer, 42, 48 
Terray, Abbe, comptroller of finances, 

1715-1778, 231 
TERROR, 1793-1794, 16, 244, 283, 323, 

329, 330 
Thackeray, W. M., English novelist, 

1811-1863, 150 

THEATRE, social influence, 244-246 
Tkedtre Agriculture, O. de Serres, 

1600, 119 

Theatre Francis, 243, 244 
Theleme, Abbey, in Rabelais, Bk. I, 

Gargantua, 40 
Theodoric, 26 
Theodosius, 95 
Theophile (de Viau), "libertine" poet, 

1590-1626, 13, 143, 202, 215 
Thermidor (9th: July 27, 1794): Fall 

of Robespierre, 327 
Thermidorian Reaction, 284 
Thesaurus Lingua Groecce, Henri Es- 

tienne, 1572, 46 
Thesaurus Linguae Latinoe, Robert Es- 

tierme, 1531-1536, 46, 77 
Thierache, district, 79 
Thiers, historian and statesman, 1797- 

1877, 153 
THIRD ESTATE, 64, 121, 163, 169, 232, 

246, 307, 310, 317 
Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648, 127, 


Thomas, St., Aquinas, 27 
Thomas (eloquence), 1732-1785, 282, 

Thomson, James (Seasons)* 1700- 

1748, 289 

Thorwaldsen, Danish sculptor, 1779- 

Thucydides, Greek Historian, 48 

Tindal, English deist, ca. 1653-1733, 

Tocqueville, political historian, 1805- 
1859, 8, 241 

Toland, English deist, 1670-1772, 262 

Toul (one of the three Bishoprics), 52 

Toulon, city and naval base, 182 

Tournehem, Pompadour group, 230 

Tours, city, 30, 201 

Tragi-Comedy, 144 

Tragics, poems, Agrippa d'AubignS, 
1616, 183 

Trajan, Roman emperor, 280 

Trappe, reformed by Ranee, 1662, 192 

Treaties: cf. Madrid, Cateau-Cam- 
bresis, Westphalia, I*yrenees, Nym- 
wegen, Basel, Versailles 

Treatise for the Conversion, etc. (Riche- 
lieu), 200 

Trecento, Italy, 53 

Trianon, 279, 289 

"Trissotin," in Moliere's Learned 
Ladies, 1672, 211, 221 

Tristan, poet, 1601-1655, 213 

Trocadero, Palace, 1878, 159 

Troubadour Style (Pre-Romantic), 

Trublet, Abbe, Compiler, 1697-1770, 

Tuileries, Palace and Gardens, 242 

Turcaret, comedy, Lesage, 1709, 208, 

Turenne, general, 1611-1675, 129, 142, 
his conversion, 201 

TURGOT, intendant, economist, re- 
former, 1727-1781, 75, 172, 178, 233, 
253, 270, 294, 299, 305, 306, 308 

Turks, 98 

Turnebe, Adrien, philologist, 1512- 
1565, 46 


Ultra-Classicism, 281 

UI/TRAMONTANISM, tendency opposed 
to GALUCANISM, q. v. 

Unigenitus, Papal Bull against Jan- 
senism, 1713, 198, 234 

University: of Paris, 29; cf. Sorbonne 
of France (Napoleon's), 338 

Urania, sonnet by Voiture (cf , Job, by 
Benserade), 138 

Urfe, HonorS d', author (Astree), 
1568-1626, 143 



Vacher de Lapouge, modem anthro- 
pologist, 35 
" Vadius," pedant in Moliere's Learned 

Ladies, 1672. 211 

Valery, Paul poet, k 1871, 134 ^ 
Valla, Lorenzo, Italian humanist, 

1405-1457, 57 
Valmy, French victory, Sept. 20, 1792, 

212, 324, 325 
Valois, reigning branch of Capetians, 

1515-1589, 10, 19, 47, 50, 69, 79, 

106, 136, 228 

Van der Meulen, painter, 159 
Van Loo, painters, J. B.: 1684-1745; 

Carle, 1705-1765, 252, 257 
Van Robais, manufacturer, 183 
Vardes, 1620-1688 (returns to Court, 

1683), 162, 165 
Varennes/Louis XVI arrested, June 22, 

1791, 321 
Vauban, engineer, marshal, economist, 

1633-1707, 160, 208, 303 
V \UGELAS, grammarian, 1595-1650, 

134, 137, 141, 143, 211 
Vaux-le-Vicomte, Fouquet's estate, 


Venddme, place, 158; Colonne, 280 
*- Grand-Prior, 1665-1727, 203, 247 
Vend6mois, Ronsard's country, 58 
Venitian glass, 183 

Ventadour, Henry deLe" vis, due (Com- 
pany of Holy Sacrament), 192 
Verdun, 52 
Vergennes, minister of foreign affairs, 

1717-1787, 299 

Vergil, 32, 34, 43, 47, 243, 282 
Vermandois, district, 79 
VERSAILLES, 4, 5, 18, 151, 156, 158, 

159, 160, 161, 162, 173, 185, 207, 256. 

306, 315 

Vert-Galant, Henry IV, 118 
Vesuvius, 283 
Vexin, district, 79 
Viau, cf . Theophile 
Vidal de la Blache, geographer, 79 
Vigny, Alfred de, poet, dramatist, nov- 
elist, 1797-1863, 7, 123, 254, 255, 

282, 341 

Villars, under Henry IV, 115 
Villars, Marshal, 1653-1734, 202 
Villeroy, 1644-1730, 228 
Villers-Cotterets, great Ordinance, 

1539, 44, 85 

Villon, poet, 1431-ca. 1489, 32, 36, 58 
Vincennes, city, forest and fortress, 33, 

122, 165 

VINCENT DE PAUL, St., 1576-1660, 173, 

190, 191, 193 
Vinci, Leonardo da, Italian artist, 

1452-1519, 12, 66, 343 
Virtti, 56 

Vitruvius, Roman architect, 10, 215 
Vitry, under Henry IV, d. 1611, 115 
Vivonne, Catherine de, cf. Rambouil- 

Voiture, Vincent, poet and Prtcieux, 

1598, 1648, 137, 138, 213, 246 
VOLTAIBE, philosophy, 259-277 
drama, 245-246, 265, 287, 288 
general: 13, 15, 33, 99, 114, 142, 
150, 170, 202, 203, 204, 211, 
214, 215, 216, 218, 222, 229, 
233, 235, 239, 40, 243, 248, 249, 
250, 255, 256, 257, 259-277, 
278, 285, 289, 294, 295, 300, 
302, 307, 309, 319, 336, 342 
Voyage of Young Anacharsis, Abb6 
Barthelemy, 1779, 284 


Wages in sixteenth century, 92 
Wagram, Napoleon's victory, 1809, 

Walpole, Horace, writer and society 

man, 1717-1797, 251, 262 
Wars: Italian Wars, 1494-1544, 50, 52 
Religious, 15CO-1598, 107-110, 


Thirty Years, 1618-1648, 127 
Louis XIV, 159 
Louis XV: Austrian Succession, 

1741-1748, 227 

Seven Years' War, 1756-1763, 298 
American, 1778-1783, 299, 315 
Revolutionary, 1792-1802, 323- 


Napoleonic, 1803-1815, 334-336 
Waterloo, Napoleon's defeat, 1815, 8, 

17, 333, 335 
Watteau, painter, 1684-1721, 256-257, 


Wattignies, French victory, 1793, 325 
Week (Semaine), religious epic, Du 

Bartas, 1579, 133 
Weishaupt (Order of Perfectibilists), 


Wells, H. G., 260, 345 
Westphalia, treaties of, 1648, 127, 130 
Whately, Archbishop (Historic Doubts) 

1787-1863, 345 

Wittenberg (Luther's formal rebel- 
lion), 102 
Wolfe, General, 1727-1759, 336 

Index 391 

Woolston, English deist, 166^-1731, Young, Edw., poet (Night Thoughts), 

263 1681-1765, 289 

WycBf, reformer, d. 1384, 9 


Y Zaire, tragedy, Voltaire, 1732, 245, 287 

Young, Arthur, agronomist (Travels in Zurich, Swiss city, 102 
France, 1792), 1741-1820, 300 Zwingli, reformer, 1484-1531, 102 


Revised June, 1965 


American Studies; General 

THOMAS c. COCHRAN: The Inner Revolution: Essays on 
the Social Sciences in History 71/1140 

EDWARD s. CORWIN: American Constitutional History. 
Essays edited by Alpheus T. Mason and Gerald Car- 
ney TB/H36 

A. HUNTER DUPREE: Science in the Federal Government: 
A History of Policies and Activities to 1940 18/573 

OSCAR HANDLIN, Ed.: This Was America: As Recorded 
by European Travelers in the Eighteenth, Nineteenth 
and Twentieth Centuries. Illus. 13/1119 

MARCUS LEE HANSEN: The Atlantic Migration: 1607-1860. 
Edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger; Introduction by 
Oscar Handlin 18/1052 

MARCUS LEE HANSEN: The Immigrant in American His- 
tory. Edited with a foreword by Arthur M. Schles- 
inger TB/1120 

JOHN HICHAM, Ed.: The Reconstruction of American 
History TB/io68 

ROBERT H. JACKSON: The Supreme Court in the American 
System of Government TB/no6 

JOHN f. KENNEDY: A Nation of Immigrants. Illus. Re- 
vised and Enlarged. Introduction by Robert F. Ken- 
nedy TB/1118 

RALPH BARTON PERRY: Puritanism and Democracy 


ARNOLD ROSE: The Negro in America: The Condensed 
Version of Cunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma 


MAURICE R. STEIN: The Eclipse of Community: An In- 
terpretation of American Studies TB/aizS 

w. LLOYD WARNER and Associates: Democracy in Jones- 
ville: A Study in Quality and Inequality \\ TB/1129 

w. LLOYD WARNER: Social Class in America: The Evalua- 
tion of Status TB/ioi3 

American Studies: Colonial 

BERNARD BAiLYN: The New England Merchants in the 
Seventeenth Century TB/1149 

JOSEPH CHARLES: The Origins of the American Party 
System TB/1049 

LAWRENCE HENRY GEPSON: The Coming of the Revolu- 
tion: 1763-1775. t IlluS. TB/3007 

LEONART> w. LEVY: Freedom of Speech and Press in Early 
American History: Legacy of Suppression TB/iiog 

PERRY MILLER: Errand Into the Wilderness 18/1x39 
PERRY MILLER & T. H. JOHNSON, Eds.: The Puritans: A 

Sourcebook of Their Writings 

Vol. I TB/1093; Vol. II 18/1094 
KENNETH B. MURDOCK: Literature and Theology in 

Colonial New England TB/99 

WALLACE NOTESTEIN: The English People on the Eve of 

Colonization: 1603-1630. t Illus. TB/30O6 

LOUIS B. WRIGHT: The Cultural Lifs of the American 

Colonies: 1607-1763. t Illus. TB/3005 

American Studies: From the Revolution to the 
Civil War 

JOHN R. ALDEN: The American Revolution: 1775-1783. t 

IlluS. TB/3011 

RAY A. BILLINGTON: The Far Western Frontier: 1830- 

1860. t IIIUS. TB/3012 

GEORGE DANGERFIELD: The Awakening of American Na- 
tionalism: 1815-1828. t Illus. TB/3061 

CLEMENT EATON: The Freedom-of-Thought Straggle in 
the Old South. Revised and Enlarged. Illus. 18/1150 

CLEMENT EATON: The Growth of Southern Civilization: 

1790-1860. t IlluS. TB/3040 

LOUIS FILLER: The Crusade Against Slavery: 1830-1860. t 
Illus. 78/3029 

DIXON RYAN FOX: The Decline of Aristocracy in the 
Politics of New York: 1801-1840. t Edited by Robert 
V. Remini TB/3064 

FRANCIS j. GRUND: Aristocracy in America: Social Class 
in the Formative Years of the New Nation TB/IOOI 

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: The Reports of Alexander Ham- 
ilton. * Edited by Jacob E. Cooke 18/3060 

DANIEL R. HUNDLEY: Social Relations in Our Southern 
States, t Edited by William R. Taylor -n/jo^B 

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Notes on the State of Virginia, t 
Edited by-Thomas P. Abernethy 13/3052 

BERNARD MAVo: Myths and Men: Patrick Henry, George 
Washington t Thomas Jefferson TB/IIOS 

JOHN c. MILLERS Alexander Hamilton and the Growth of 
the New Nation TZ/JO^ 

RICHARD B. MORRIS, Ed.: The Era of the American Revo- 
lution TB/1180 

R. B. NYE: The Cultural life of the New Nation: 1776- 

iSOl. t Illus. TB/3026 

GEORGE E. PROBST, Ed.: The Happy Republic: A Reader 
in Tocqueville's America TB/io6o 

t The New American Nation Series, edited by Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris. 

1 American Perspectives series, edited by Bernard Wishy and William E. Leuchtenburg. 
* The Rise of Modern Europe series, edited by William L Langer. 

|| Researches in the Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Sciences, edited by Benjamin Nelson. 
S The Library of Religion and Culture, edited by Benjamin Nelson. 

2 Harper Modern Science Series, edited by James R. Newman. 
Not for sale in Canada. 

FRANK THiSTLETHWArrE: America and the Atlantic Com- 
munity: Anglo-American Aspects, 2790-2550 18/1107 

A. F. TYLER: Freedom's Ferment: Phases of American 
Social History from the Revolution to the Outbreak 
of the Civil War. 32 illus. 18/1074 

GLYNDON G. VAN DEUSEN: The Jacksonian Era: 1828- 

1848. t IIIUS, TB/3028 

LOUIS B. WRIGHT: Culture on the Moving Frontier 


American Studies: Since the Civil War 

RAY STANNARD BAKER: Following the Color Line: Ameri- 
can Negro Citizenship in Progressive Era. t Illus. 
Edited by Dewey W. Grantham, Jr. ^3053 

RANDOLPH s. BOURNE: War and the Intellectuals: CoZ- 
lected Essays, 2925-1919. i Edited by Carl Resek 


A. RUSSELL BUCHANAN: The United States and World War 
II. t Illus. Vol. I TB/3044; Vol. II ^5045 

ABRAHAM CAHAN: The Rise of David Levinsky: a docu- 
mentary novel of social mobility in early twentieth 
century America. Intro, by John Higham TB/1028 

THOMAS c. COCHRAN: The American Business System: 
A Historical Perspective, 1900-2955 TB/io8o 

prise: A Social History of Industrial America TB/io54 

FOSTER RHEA DULLES: America's Rise to World Power: 

1898-1954. t IIZS. TB/J021 

w. A. DUNNING: Essays on the Civil War and Reconstruc- 
tion. Introduction by David Donald TB/n8i 
w. A. DUNNING: Reconstruction, Political and Economic: 

1865-1877 TB/1073 

HAROLD u. FAULKNER: Politics, Reform and Expansion: 

1890-1900. t IIIUS. TB/3020 

JOHN D. HICKS: Republican Ascendancy: 1921-1933. t 

Illus. TB/3041 

ROBERT HUNTER: Poverty: Social Conscience in the Pro- 
gressive Era. t Edited by Robert d'A. Jones TB/JO&^ 
p '-EN HUNT JACKSON: A Century of Dishonor: The Early 
'rusade for Indian Reform, t Edited by Andrew F. 
liolle TB/3063 

AIBERT D. KIRWAN: Revolt of the Rednecks: Mississippi 
Politics r 1876-10,25 TB/H99 

.o Isolation: The World. Crisis of 1937-1940 and 
\mericcm foreign Policy 

Vol. I TB/3054; Vol. II TB/3055 

JAM E. LEUCHTENBURG: Franklin D. Roosevelt and 

i New Deal : 1932-1940. t Illus. TB/3025 

,iUR s. LINK: Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive 

^.ra: 1910-1917. t Illus. TB/3023 

nsERT GREEN MCCLOSKEY: American Conservatism in 

he Age of Enterprise: 1865-1910 TB/1137 

MGE E. MOWRY: The Era of Theodore Roosevelt and 

! \e Birth of Modem America: 1900-1912. t Illus. 


ITER RAUSCHENBUSCH: Christianity and the Social 
-risis. t Edited by Robert D. Cross TB/3059 

ULES H. SHINN. Mining Camps: A Study in American 
frontier Government, t Edited by Rodman W. Paul 


TWELVE SOUTHERNERS: I'll Take My Stand: The South 
and the Agrarian Tradition. Intro, by Louis D. Rubin, 
Jr.; Biographical Essays by Virginia Rock T^/ioyz 

WALTER E. WEYL: The New Democracy: An Essay on Cer- 
tain Political Tendencies in the United States, t Edited 
by Charles B. Forcey TB/3042 

VERNON LANE WHARTON: The Negro in Mississippi: 

1865-1890 TB/1178 


JACQUES BARZUN: Race: A Study in Superstition. Re- 
vised Edition TB/H72 

JOSEPH B. CASAGRANDE, Ed.: In the Company of Man: 
Twenty Portraits of Anthropological Informants. 
Illus. TB/3047 

w. E. LE GROS CLARK: The Antecedents of Man: An In- 
troduction to the Evolution of the Primates. Illus. 


CORA DU BOIS: The People of Alor. New Preface-by the 
author. Illus. Vol. I TB/1042; Vol. II 78/1043 

RAYMOND FIRTH, Ed.: Man and Culture: An Evaluation 
of the Work of Bronislaw Malinowski \\ 18/1133 

L. s. B. LEAKEY: Adam's Ancestors: The Evolution of 
Man and His Culture. Illus. TB/ioig 

ROBERT H. I.OWIE: Primitive Society. Introduction by 
Fred Eggan 18/1056 

SIR EDWARD TYLOR: The Origins of Culture. Part I of 
"Primitive Culture." Introduction by Paul Radin 


SIR EDWARD TYLOR: Religion in Primitive Culture. Part 
II of "Primitive Culture." Introduction by Paul 
Radin TB/34 

w. LLOYD WARNER: A Black Civilization: A Study of an 
Australian Tribe. \\ Illus. 18/3056 

Art and Art History 

WALTER LOWRIE: Art in the Early Church. 152 illus. Re- 
vised Edition TB/124 

EMIIE MALE: The Gothic Image: Religious Art in France 
of the Thirteenth Century. 190 illus. TB/44 

MILLARD MEISS: Painting in Florence and Siena after the 
Black Death: The Arts, Religion and Society in the 
Mid-Fourteenth Century. 269 illus. 18/1148 

ERICH NEUMANN: The Archetypal World of Henry Moore. 

207 illus. TB/2020 

DORA &. ERWIN PANOFSKY: Pandora's Box: The Changing 
Aspects of a Mythical Symbol Revised Edition. Illus. 


ERWIN PANOFSKY: Studies in Iconology: Humanistic 
Themes in the Art of the Renaissance. 180 illustra- 
tions TB/1077 

ALEXANDRE piANKOFF: The Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon. 
Edited by N. Rambova. 227 illus. TB/20H 

JEAN SEZNEC: The Survival of the Pagan Gods: The 
Mythological Tradition and Its Place in Renaissance 
Humanism and Art. 108 illustrations 18/2004 

OTTO VON SIMSON: The Gothic Cathedral: Origins of 
Gothic Architecture and the Medieval Concept of 
Order. 58 illus. TB/2oi8 

HEINRICH ZIMMER: Myth and Symbols in Indian Art and 
Civilization. 70 illustrations 18/2005 

Business, Economics & Economic History 

REINHARD BENDix: Work and Authority in Industry: 
Ideologies of Management in the Course of Indus- 
trialization TB/3035 


Age TB/1179 

THOMAS c. COCHRAN: The American Business System: A 
Historical Perspective, 2900-2955 TB/io8o 

THOMAS c. COCHRAN: The Inner Revolution: Essays on 
the Social Sciences in History 18/1140 

prise: A Social History of Industrial America 18/1054 


nomics, and Welfare: Planning and Politico-Economic 
Systems Resolved into Basic Social Processes 


PETER F. DRUCKER: The New Society: The Anatomy of 
Industrial Order TB/io82 

EDITORS OF FORTUNE: America in the Sixties: The Econ- 
omy and the Society 13/1015 

ROBERT L. HEILBRONER: The Great Ascent: The Struggle 
for Economic Development in Our Time 13/3030 

ABBA P. LERNER: Everybody's Business: Current Assump- 
tions in Economics and Public Policy 13/3051 

ROBERT GREEN MCCLOSKEY: American Conservatism in 
the Age of Enterprise, 1865-1910 13/1137 

PAUL MANTOUX: The Industrial Revolution in the 
Eighteenth Century: The Beginnings of the Modern 
factory System in England TB/1O79 

WILLIAM MILLER, Ed.: Men in Business: Essays on the 
Historical Role of the Entrepreneur TB/io8i 

PERRIN STRYKER: The Character of the Executive: Eleven 
Studies in Managerial Qualities TB/1041 

PIERRE URI: Partnership for Progress: A Program for 
Transatlantic Action 13/3036 

Contemporary Culture 

JACQUES BARZUN: The House of Intellect 1^/1051 

JOHN u. NEF: Cultural Foundations of Industrial Civi- 
lization TB/1024 

NATHAN M. PUSEY: The Age of the Scholar: Observations 
on Education in a Troubled Decade TB/H57 

PAUL VALERY: The Outlook for Intelligence TB/20i6 

History: General 

L. CARRINGTON GOODRICH: A Short History of the Chi- 
nese People. Illus. TB/3015 

nism: Selected Documents TB/JOJT 

BERNARD LEWIS: The Arabs in History 13/1029 

SIR PERCY SYKES: A History of Exploration. Introduc- 
tion by John K. Wright 16/1046 

History: Ancient and Medieval 

A, ANDREWES: The Greek Tyrants 13/1103 

p. BOISSONNADE: Life and Work in Medieval Europe: The 
Evolution of the Medieval Economy, the Fifth to the 
Fifteenth Centuries. Preface by Lynn White, Jr. 


HELEN CAM: England before Elizabeth TB/ioz6 

NORMAN COHN: The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolu- 
tionary Messianism in Medieval and Reformation 
Europe and its Bearing on Modern Leftist and Right- 
ist Totalitarian Movements 1*1/1037 
G. G. COULTON: Medieval Village, Manor, and Monastery 


HEINRICH FICHTENAU: The Carolingian Empire: The Age 

of Charlemagne 18/1142 

F. L. GANSHOF: Feudalism 13/1058 

EDWARD GIBBON: The Triumph of Christendom in the 

Roman Empire (Chaps. XV-XX of "Decline and Fall," 

J. B. Bury edition). Illus. 18/46 

MICHAEL GRANT: Ancient History 13/1190 

DENYS HAY: The Medieval Centuries 13/1192 

j. M. HUSSEY: The Byzantine World 13/1057 

SAMUEL NOAH KRAMER: Sumerian Mythology 13/1055 

FERDINAND LOT: The End of the Ancient World and the 
Beginnings of the Middle Ages. Introduction by Glan- 
ville Downey 13/1044 

G. MOLLATT: The Popes at Avignon: 1305-1378 TB/3oS 

CHARLES PETIT-DUTAILLIS: The Feudal Monarchy in 
France and England: From the Tenth to the Thir- 
teenth Century ft 13/1165 

HENRI PIERENNE: Early Democracies in the Low Coun- 
tries: Urban Society and Political Conflict in the 
Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Introduction by 
John H. Mundy IB/mo 

STEVEN RUNCIMAN: A History of the Crusades. Volume 
I: The First Crusade and the Foundation: of the King- 
dom of Jerusalem, Illus. 16/1143 

FERDINAND scHEViLL: Siena: The History of a Medieval 
Commune. Introduction by William M. Bowsky 


HENRY OSBORN TAYLOR: The Classical Heritage of the 
Middle Ages. Foreword and Biblio. by Kenneth M. 
Setton 13/1117 

F. VAN DER MEER: Augustine The Bishop: Church and 
Society at the Dawn of the Middle Ages 18/304 

j. M. WALLACE-HADRILL: The Barbarian West: The Early 
Middle Ages, A.D. 400-1000 13/1061 

History: Renaissance & Reformation 

JACOB BURCKHARDT: The Civilization of the Renaissance 
in Italy. Introduction by Benjamin Nelson and 
Charles Trinkaus. Illus. 

Vol. I 18/40; Vol. II 13/41 

ERNSI CASSIRER: The Individual and the Cosmos in 
Renaissance Philosophy. Translated with an Intro- 
duction by Mario Domandi 13/1097 

FEDERICO CHABOD: Machiavelli and the Renaissance 


EDWARD P. CHEYNEY: The Dawn of a New Era, 1250- 

1453. * IIIUS. TB/3002 

R. TREVOR DA VIES: The Golden Century of Spain, 1501- 
1621 13/1194 

DESIDERIUS ERASMUS: Christian Humanism and the 
Reformation: Selected Writings. Edited and trans- 
lated by John C. Olin TB/n66 

WALLACE K. FERGUSON et al.: Facets of the Renaissance 


WALLACE K. FERGUSON et al.: The Renaissance: Six Es- 
says. IIIUS. TB/I084 

JOHN NEVILLE FIGGIS: The Divine Right of Kings. Intro- 
duction by G. R. Elton TB/IIQI 

JOHN NEVILLE FIGGIS: Political Thought from Gerson to 
Grotius: 1414-1625: Seven Studies. Introduction by 
Garrett Mattingly 13/1032 

MYRON P. GILMORE: The World of Humanism, 1453- 
1517.* Illus. 13/3003 

FRANCESCO cuicciARDiNi : Maxims and Reflections of a 
Renaissance Statesman (Ricordi). Trans, by Mario 
Domandi. Intro, by Nicolai Rubinstein 13/1160 

j. H. HEXIER: More's Utopia: The Biography of an Idea 


JOHAN HUIZINGA: Erasmus and the Age of Reformation. 


ULRICH VON HUTTEN et al.: On the Eve of the Reforma- 
tion: "Letters of Obscure Men." Introduction by Hafo 
Holborn 13/1124 

PAUL o. KRISTELLER: Renaissance Thought: The Classic, 
Scholastic, and Humanist Strains 13/1048 

PAUL o. KRISIELLER: Renaissance Thought II: Papers on 
Humanism and the Arts 13/1163 

NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI: History of Florence and of the 
Affairs of Italy: from the earliest times to the death 
of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Introduction by Felix 
Gilbert TB/I027 

ALFRED VON MARTIN: Sociology of the Renaissance. In- 
troduction by Wallace K, Ferguson 78/1099 

GARRETT MA77INGLY et al.: Renaissance Profiles. Edited 
by I H. Plumb TB/u6a 

MILLAXD MEISS: Painting in Florence and Siena after the 
Black Death: The Arts, Religion and Society in the 
Mid-Fourteenth Century. 169 illus. 18/1148 

j. E. NEALE : The Age of Catherine de Medici TB/io85 

IRWIN PANOFSKY: Studies in Iconology: Humanistic 
Themes in the Art of the Renaissance. 180 illustra- 
tions 13/1077 

j. H. PARRY: The Establishment of the European He- 
gemony: 1415-1715: Trade and Exploration in the 
Age of the Renaissance 12/1045 

j, H. PLUMB: The Italian Renaissance: A Concise Survey 
of Its History and Culture TB/n6i 

GORDON RUPP: Luther's Progress to the Diet of Worms 

FERDINAND SCHEVIU: The Medici. Illus. TB/1010 

FERDINAND scHEViLL: Medieval and Renaissance Flor- 
ence. Illus. Volume I: Medieval Florence 1*8/1090 
Volume II: The Coming of Humanism and the Age of 
the Medici 13/1091 

G. M. TREVELYAN: England in the Age of Wycliffe, 1368- 

1J20 TB/1112 

VESPASIANO: Renaissance Princes, Popes, and Prelates: 
The Vespasiand Memoirs; Lives of Illustrious Men of 
the XVth Century, Introduction by Myron P. Gilmore 


History: Modern European 

FREDERICK B, ARIZ: Reaction and Revolution, 1815- 
1832. * Illus. TB/3034 

MAX BELOFI: The Age of Absolutism, 1660-1815 


ROBERT c BINKLEY: Realism and Nationalism, 1852- 

1871. * Illus. 78/3038 

CRANE BRINTON: A Decade of Revolution, 1789-1799. * 

lllllS. TB/3018 

j. BRONOWSKI & BRUCE MAZLisH: The Western Intellectual 
Tradition: From Leonardo to Hegel 73/3001 

GEOFFREY BRuuN: Europe and the French Imperium, 
1799-1814. * Illus. 78/3033 

ALAN BULLOCK: Hitler, A Study in Tyranny. Illus. 


E. H. CARR: The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939: An 
Introduction to the Study of International Relations 


GORDON A. CRAIG: From Bismarck to Adenauer: Aspects 
of German Statecraft. Revised Edition 76/1171 

WALTER L. DORN: Competition for Empire, 1740-1763. * 
Illus. 18/3032 

CARL j. FRIEDRICH: The Age of the Baroque, 1610-1660. * 
MM- 73/3004 

REN! FUELOEP-MILLER: The Mind and Face of Bolshe- 
vism: An Examination of Cultural Life in Soviet 
Russia. New Epilogue by the Author TB/n88 

M. DOROTHY GEORGE: London Life in the Eighteenth 
Century TB/H82 

LEO GERSHOY: From Despotism to Revolution, 1763- 

1789. * UIUS. TB/3017 

c. c. GILLISPIE: Genesis and Geology: The Decades 
before Darwin xB/j! 

ALBERT GOODWIN: The French Revolution 73/1064 
ALBERT GUERARD: France in the Classical Age: The Life 

and Death of an Ideal 73/1183 

CARLTON j. H. HAYES: A Generation of Materialism, 1871- 

1900. * Illus, 73/3039 

j. H. HEXTER: Reappraisals in History: New Views on 

History and Society in Early Modern Europe 


A. R. HUMPHREYS: The Augustan World: Society, 
Thought, and Letters in Eighteenth Century England 


ALDOUS HUXLEY: The Devils of Loudun: A Study in the 
Psychology of Power Politics and Mystical Religion in 
the France of Cardinal Richelieu TB/6o 

DAN N. JACOBS, Ed.: The New Communist Manifesto 
and Related Documents. Third edition, revised 


HANS KOHN, Ed.: The Mind of Modern Russia: Historical 
and Political Thought of Russia's Great Age 73/1065 

KINGSLEY MAR7IN: French Liberal Thought in the 
Eighteenth Century: A Study of Political Ideas from 
Bayle to Condorcet 73/1114 

SIR LEWIS NAMTER: Personalities and Powers: Selected 
Essays TB/n86 

SIR LEWIS NAMIER: Vanished Supremacies: Essays on 
European History, 1812-1918 7B/io88 

JOHN u. NEF: Western Civilization Since the Renais- 
sance: Peace, War, Industry, and the Arts 73/1113 

FREDERICK L. NUSSBAUM: The Triumph of Science and 
Reason, 1660-1685. * Illus. 73/3009 

JOHN PLAMENATZ: German Marxism and Russian Com- 
munism. Neio Preface by the Author 73/1189 

RAYMOND w. posTGATE, Ed.: Revolution from 1789 to 
1906: Selected Documents 78/1063 

PENFIELD ROBERTS: The Quest for Security, 1715-1740. * 

IIIUS. 7B/3016 

PRISCILLA ROBERTSON: Revolutions of 1848: A Social 
History 73/1025 

ALBER7 SOREL: Europe Under the Old Regime. Translated 
by Francis H. Herrick 73/1121 

N. N. SUKHANOV: The Russian Revolution, 1917: Eyewit- 
ness Account. Edited by Joel Carmichael 

Vol. I TB/1066; Vol. II 73/1067 

A. j. p. 7AYLOR: The Habsburg Monarch, 1809-1918: A 
History of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hun- 
gary 78/1187 

JOHN B. WOLF: The Emergence of the Great Powers, 
1685-1715. * Illus. 73/3010 

JOHN B. WOLF: France: 1814-1919: The Rise of a Liberal- 
Democratic Society 73/3019 

Intellectual History 

HERSCHEL BAKER: The Image of Man: A Study of the 
Idea of Human Dignity in Classical Antiquity, the 
Middle Ages, and the Renaissance 73/1047 

R. R. BOLGAR: The Classical Heritage and Its Benefici- 
aries: From the Carolingian Age to the End of the 
Renaissance 73/1125 

j. BRONOWSKI & BRUCE MAZLISH: The Western Intellectual 
Tradition: From Leonardo to Hegel 73/3001 

ERNST CASSIRER: The Individual and the Cosmos in 
Renaissance Philosophy. Translated with an Intro- 
duction by Mario Domandi 78/1097 

NORMAN COHN: The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revo- 
lutionary Messianism in medieval and Reformation 
Europe and its bearing on modern Leftist and Rightist 
totalitarian movements 73/1037 

G. RACHEL LEVY: Religious Conceptions of the Stone Age 

and Their Influence upon European Thought, Illus. 

Introduction by Henri Frankfort TB/io6 

ARTHUR o. LOVEJOY: The Great Chain of Being: A Study 

of the History of an Idea 13/1009 

MILTON c. NAHM: -Genius and Creativity: An Essay in 

the History of Ideas 1-8/1196 

ROBERT PAYNE: Hubris: A Study of Pride. Foreword by 

Sir Herbert Read 18/1031 

RALPH BARTON PERRY: The Thought and Character of 

William James: Briefer Version 18/1156 

BRUNO SNELL: The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek 

Origins of European Thought TB/ioi8 

ERNEST LEE TOVESON: Millennium and Utopia: A Study 

in the Background of the Idea of Progress, j, New 

Preface by the Author 18/1134 

PAUL VALERY: The Outlook for Intelligence 18/2016 

Literature, Poetry, The Novel 6 1 Criticism 

JAMES BAIRD: Ishmael: The Art of Melville in the Con- 
texts of International Primitivism 18/1023 
JACQUES BARZUN: The House of Intellect 18/1051 
w. j. BATE: From Classic to Romantic: Premises of Taste 
in Eighteenth Century England TB/IO36 

RACHEL BESPALOFF: On the Iliad TB/2006 

R. p. BLACKMUR et al.: Lectures in Criticism. Introduc- 
tion by Huntington Cairns 18/2003 

RANDOLPH s. BOURNE: War and the Intellectuals: Col- 
lected Essays, 1915-1919. t Edited by Carl Resek 


ABRAHAM CAHAN: The Rise of David Levinsky: a docu- 
mentary novel of social mobility in early twentieth 
century America. Introduction by John Higham 


ERNST R. CURTIUS: European Literature and the Latin 
Middle Ages TB/2015 

GEORGE ELIOT: Daniel Deronda: a novel Introduction by 
F. R. Leavis 13/1039 

ETIENNE GILSON: Dante and Philosophy 18/1089 

ALFRED HARBAGE: As They Liked It: A Study of Shakes- 
peare's Moral Artistry TB/1035 

STANLEY R. HOPPER, Ed.: Spiritual Problems in Con- 
temporary Literature TB/21 

A. R. HUMPHREYS: The Augustan World: Society , 
Thought and Letters in Eighteenth Century England 


ALDOUS HUXLEY: Antic Hay & The Giaconda Smile. 
Introduction by Martin Green 18/3503 

ALDOUS HUXLEY: Brave New World & Brave New World 
Revisited. Introduction by Martin Green 18/3501 

HENRY JAMES: Roderick Hudson: a novel Introduction 
by Leon Edel TB/ioi6 

HENRY JAMES: The Tragic Muse: a novel Introduction by 
Leon Edel 18/1017 

ARNOLD KETTLE: An Introduction to the English Novel. 
Volume I: Defoe to George Eliot TB/IOII 

Volume II: Henry James to the Present TB/1012 

ROGER SHERMAN LOOMis: The Development of Arthurian 
Romance 18/1167 

JOHN STUART MILL: On Bentham and Coleridge. Intro- 
duction by F, R. Leavis TB/IO/O 

PERRY MILLER & T. H. JOHNSON, Editors: The Puritans: A 
Sourcebook of Their Writings 

Vol. I TB/1093; Vol. II TB/1094 

KENNETH B. MURDOCK: Literature and Theology in 
Colonial New England TB/99 

SAMUEL PEPYS: The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Edited by 
O, F. Morshead. Illus. by Ernest Shepard 18/1007 
ST.-JOHN PERSE: Seamarks 18/2002 

o. E. ROLVAAG: Giants in the Earth 18/3504 

GEORGE SANTA YANA: Interpretations of Poetry and Re- 
ligion TB/9 
c. P. SNOW: Time of Hope: a novel TB/io4o 
HEINRJCH STRAUMANN: American Literature in the 
Twentieth Century. Third Edition, Revised TB/H68 
DOROTHY VAN GHENT: The English Novel: Form and 
Function TB/105O 

E. B. WHITE: One Man's Meat. Introduction by Walter 
Blair 73/3505 

MORTON DAUWEN ZABEL, Editor: Literary Opinion in 
America Vol. I 18/3013; VoL II 18/3014 

Myth, Symbol & Folklore 

JOSEPH CAMPBELL, Editor: Pagan and Christian Mysteries 

IIIUS. TB/2013 

MIRCEA ELIADE: Cosmos and History: The Myth of the 
Eternal Return TB/2050 

c. G. JUNG & c. KERENYI: Essays on a Science of Myth- 
ology: The Myths of the D\vine Child and the Divine 
Maiden TB/2014 

DORA & ERWIN PANOFSKY: Pandora's Box: The Changing 
Aspects of a Mythical Symbol Revissd Edition. Illus. 


ERWIN PANOFSKY: Studies in Iconology: Humanistic 
Themes in the Art of the Renaissance. 180 illustra- 
tions TB/1077 

JEAN SEZNEC: The Survival of the Pagan Gods: The 
Mythological Tradition and its Place in Renaissance 
Humanism and Art. 108 illustrations 18/2004 

HELLMUT WILHELM: Change: Eight Lectures on the I 
Ching TB/2019 

HEINRICH ZIMMER: Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and 
Civilization. 70 illustrations 18/2005 


HENRI BERGSON: Time and Free Will: An Essay on the 
Immediate Data of Consciousness 18/1021 

H. j. BLACKHAM: Six Existentialist Thinkers: Kierke- 
gaard, Nietzsche, Jaspers, Marcel, Heidegger, Sartre 


CRANE BRINTON: Nietzsche. New Preface and Epilogue 
by the Author 18/1197 

ERNST CASSIRER: The Individual and the Cosmos in 
Renaissance Philosophy. Translated with an Intro- 
duction by Mario Domandi 18/1097 

ERNST CASSIRER: Rousseau, Kant and Goethe. Introduc- 
tion by Peter Gay TB/1092 

FREDERICK copLESTON: Medieval Philosophy 18/376 

F. M. CORNFORD: From Religion to Philosophy: A Study 
in the Origins of Western Speculation TB/20 

WILFRID DESAN: The Tragic Finale: An Essay on the 
Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre TB/IOJO 

PAUL FRIEDLANDER: Plato: An Introduction 18/2017 
ETIENNE GILSON: Dante and Philosophy 18/1089 

WILLIAM CHASE GREENE: Moira: Fate, Good, and Evil in 
Greek Thought 13/1104 

w. K. c-. GUTHRIE: The Greek Philosophers: From Thales 
to Aristotle TB/ioo8 

F. H. HEINEMANN: Existentialism and the Modern Pre- 
dicament 18/28 

EDMUND HusssRL: Phenomenology and the Crisis of 
Philosophy. Translated with an Introduction by 
Quentin Lauer 18/1170 

IMMANUEL KANT: The Doctrine of Virtue, being Part II 
of The Metaphysic of Morals. Translated with Notes 
and Introduction by Mary J. Gregor. foreword by H. 
1. Paton TB/iio 

IMMANUEL KANT: Groundwork of the Metaphysic of 
Morals. Translated and analyzed by H. ]. Paton 


IMMANUEL KANT: Lectures on Ethics. Introduction by 
Lewis W. Beck 18/105 

QUENTIN LAUER: Phenomenology: Its Genesis and Pros- 
pect 73/1169 

GEORGE A. MORGAN: What Nietzsche Means 73/1198 

MICHAEL POLANYI: Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post- 
Critical Philosophy 13/1158 

WILLARD VAN ORMAN QuiNE: Elementary Logic. Revised 
Edition 78/577 

WILLARD VAN ORMAN QUINS: From a Logical Point of 
View: Logico-Philosophical Essays 18/566 

BERTRAND RUSSELL et al.: The Philosophy of Bertrand 
Russell. Edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp 

Vol. I TB/1095; Vol. II 13/1096 

L. s. STEBBING: A Modern Introduction to Logic 73/538 

ALFRED NORTH WHI7EHEAD: Process and Reality: An 
Essay in Cosmology 78/1033 

WILHELM WINDELBAND: A History of Philosophy 
Vol. I: Greek, Roman, Medieval 78/58 

Vol. II: Renaissance, Enlightenment, Modern 18/59 

Philosophy of History 

NICOLAS BERDYAEV: The Beginning and the End 73/14 

NICOLAS BERDYAEV : The Destiny of Man TB/6i 

WILHELM DUTHEY: Pattern and Meaning in History: 

Thoughts on History and Society. Edited with an 

Introduction by H. P. Rickman 13/1075 

RAYMOND KLIBANSKY & H. j. PATON, Eds.: Philosophy and 

History: The Ernst Cassirer Festschrift. Illus. 


MILTON c. NAHM: Genius and Creativity: An Essay in 
the History of Ideas 18/1196 

JOSE ORTEGA Y G ASSET: The Modern Theme. Introduc- 
tion by Jose Ferrater Mora 18/1058 

KARL R. POPPER: The Poverty of Historicism 78/1126 

w. H. WALSH: Philosophy of History: An Introduction 


Political Science & Government 

JEREMY BENTHAM: The Handbook of Political Fallacies: 
Introduction by Crane Brinton 78/1069 

KENNETH E. BONDING: Conflict and Defense: A General 
Theory 78/3024 

CRANE BRINTON: English Political Thought in the Nine- 
teenth Century 18/1071 

EDWARD s. CORWIN: American Constitutional History: 
Essays edited by Alpheus T. Mason and Gerald Gar- 
ve V 78/1136 

ROBERT DAHL & CHARLES E. LINDBLOM: Politics, Economics, 

and Welfare: Planning and Politico-Economic Sys- 
tems Resolved into Basic Social Processes 78/3037 

JOHN NEVILLE FIGGIS: The Divine Right of Kings. Intro- 
duction by G. R. Elton 78/1191 

JOHN NEVILLE FIGGIS: Political Thought from Gerson to 
Grotius: 1414-1625: Seven Studies. Introduction by 
Garrett Mattingly 78/1032 

F. L. GANSHQF: Feudalism 73/1058 

G. P. GOOCH: English Democratic Ideas in Seventeenth 
Century TB/ioo6 

j. H. HEXTER: More's Utopia: The Biography of an Idea. 
New Epilogue by the Author 18/1195 

ROBERT H. JACKSON: The Supreme Court in the American 
System of Government TB/iio6 

DAN N. JACOBS, Ed.: The New Communist Manifesto and 
Related Documents 73/1078 

DAN N. JACOBS & HANS BAERWALD, Eds.: Chinese Com- 
munism: Selected Documents 73/3031 

ROBERT GREEN MCCLOSKEY: American Conservatism in 
the Age of Enterprise, 1865-1910 78/1137 

KINGSLEY MARTIN: French Liberal Thought in the 
Eighteenth Century: Political Ideas from Boyle to 
Condorcet 78/1114 

JOHN STUART MILL: On Bentham and Coleridge. In- 
troduction by F. R. Leavis 78/1070 

JOHN B. MORRALL: -Political Thought in Medieval Times 


JOHN PLAMENA7Z: German Marxism and Russian Com- 
munism. New Preface by the Author 73/1189 

KARL R. POPPER: The Open Society and Its Enemies 
Vol. I: The Spell of Plato TB/IIOI 

Vol. II: The High Tide of Prophecy; Hegel, Marx, and 
the Aftermath 78/1102 

HENRI DE SAINT-SIMON: Social Organization, The Science 
of Man, and Other Writings. Edited and Translated 
by Felix Markham 78/1152 

JOSEPH A. SCHUMPE7ER: Capitalism, Socialism and 
Democracy 73/3008 

CHARLES H. SHiNN: Mining Camps: A Study in American 
Frontier Government, t Edited by Rodman W. Paul 



ALFRED ADLER: The Individual Psychology of Alfred 
Adler. Edited by Heinz L and Rowena R. Ansbacher 


ALFRED ADLER: Problems of Neurosis. Introduction by 
Heinz L. Ansbacher 73/1145 

AN70N T. BOISEN: The Exploration of the Inner World: 
A Study of Mental Disorder and Religious Experience 


HERBERT FiNGARETTE: The Self in Transformation: Psy- 
choanalysis, Philosophy and the Life of the Spirit. || 


SIGMUND FREUD: On Creativity and the Unconscious: 
Papers on the Psychology of Art, Literature, Love, 
Religion. Intro, by Benjamin Nelson TB/45 

c. JUDSON HERRICK: The Evolution of Human Nature 


WILLIAM JAMES: Psychology: The Briefer Course. Edited 
with an Intro, by Gordon Allport 78/1034 

c. G. JUNG: Psychological Reflections 73/2001 

c. G. JUNG: Symbols of Transformation: An Analysis of 
the Prelude to a Case of Schizophrenia, Illm. 

Vol. I: 78/2009; Vol. II 78/2010 

c. G. JUNG & c. KER^NYI; Essays on a Science of Mytholo- 
gy: The Myths of the Divine Child and the Divine 
Maiden 78/2014 

JOHN 7. MCNEILL: A History of the Cure of Souls 


KARL MENNINGER: Theory of Psychoanalytic Technique 


ERICH NEUMANN: Amor and Psyche: The Psychic De- 
velopment of the Feminine 78/2012 

ERICH NEUMANN: The Archetypal World of Henry Moore. 

JO/ illus. TB/2O20 

ERICH NEUMANN: The Origins and History of Conscious- 
ness Vol. llllus. TB/2oo 7 ; Vol. II TB/20O8 
c. p. OBERNDORF: A History of Psychoanalysis in America 


RALPH BARTON PERRY: The Thought and Character of 
William James: Briefer Version 18/1156 


Child's Conception of Geometry 78/1146 

JOHN H. SCHAAR: Escape from Authority: The Perspec- 
tives of Erich Fromm 18/1155 


JACQUES BARZUN: Race: A Study in Superstition. Revised 

Edition TB/H72 

BERNARD BERELSON, Ed.: The Behavioral Sciences Today 


ABRAHAM CAHAN: The Rise of David Levinsky: A docu- 
mentary novel of social mobility in early twentieth 
century America. Intro, by John Higham 18/1028 

THOMAS c. COCHRAN: The Inner Revolution: Essays on 
the Social Sciences in History 18/1140 

ALLISON DAVIS & JOHN DOLLARD: Children of Bondage: 
The Personality Development of Negro 'Youth in the 
Urban South |[ TB/J049 

ST. CLAIR DRAKE & HORACE R. CAYTON: Black Metropolis* 
A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City. Revised 
and Enlarged. Intro, by Everett C. Hughes 

Vol.1 TB/ioSfi; Vol. II TB/1087 

EMILE DURKHEIM et al.: Essays on Sociology and Philoso- 
phy: With Analyses of Durkheim's Life and Work. \\ 
Edited by Kurt H. Wolff 


When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Ac- 
count of a Modern Group that Predicted the Destruc- 
tion of the World || 18/1132 

ALVIN w. GODLDNER: Wildcat Strike: A Study in Worker- 
Management Relationships jj 13/1176 

FRANCIS j. GRUND: Aristocracy in America: Social Class 
in the Formative "Years of the New Nation TB/IOOI 

KURT LEWIN: Field Theory in Social Science: Selected 
Theoretical Papers. |( Edited with a Foreword by 
Dorwin Cartwright 18/1135 

R. M. MACIVER: Social Causation 18/1153 


JR., Editors: Sociology Today: Problems and Pros- 
pects |j Vol. I TB/1173; Vol. II TB/1174 

TALCOTT PARSONS & EDWARD A. ants, Editors: Toward 
a General Theory of Action: Theoretical Foundations 
for the Social Sciences TB/io83 


Generation Grows Up: Cultures and Personalities of 

New Orleans Negroes || 18/3050 

ARNOLD ROSE: The Negro in America: The Condensed 

Version of Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma 

KURT SAMUELSSON: Religion and Economic Action: A 

Critiaue of Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and 

the Spirit of Capitalism. || Trans, by E. G. French; 

Ed. with Intro, by D. C. Coleman TB/1131 

PITIRIMA.SOROKIN: Contemporary Sociological Theories. 

Through the First Quarter of the zoth Century 1^/^046 
MAURICE R. STEIN: The Eclipse of Community: An Inter- 

pretation of American Studies TB/H28 

FERDINAND TONNiES: Community and Society: Gemein- 

schaft und Gesellschaft. Translated and edited by 

Charles P. Loomzs TB/ui6 

w. LLOYD WARNER & Associates: Democracy in Jones- 
ville: A Study in Quality and Inequality TB/H29 

w. LLOYD WARNER: Social Class in America: The Evalua- 
tion of Status TB/ioi3 


Ancient cV Classical 

j. H. BREASTED: Development of Religion and Thought in 
Ancient Egypt Introduction by John A, Wilson 


HENRI FRANKFORT: Ancient Egyptian Religion: An In- 
terpretation TB/77 

G. RACHEL LEVY: Religious Conceptions of the Stone Age 
and their Influence upon European Thought. Illus. 
Introduction by Henri Frankfort TB/io6 

MARTIN P. NILSSON: Greek Folk Religion. Foreword by 
Arthur Darby Nock TB/78 

ALEXANDRE piANKOFF: The Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon. 
Edited by N. Rambova. 217 illus. TB/2oii 

H. j. ROSE: Religion in Greece and Rome ra/55 

Biblical Thought & Literature 

w. F. ALBRIGHT: The Biblical Period from Abraham to 

Ezra TB/102 

c. K. BARRETT/ Ed.: The New Testament Background: 

Selected Documents TB/86 

C H. DODD: The Authority of the Bible TB/43 

M. s. ENSLIN: Christian Beginnings TB/5 

M. s. ENSLIN: The Literature of the Christian Movement 


JOHN GRAY: Archaeology and the Old Testament World. 

IIIUS. TB/127 

H. H. ROWLEY: The Growth of the Old Testament 


D. WINTON THOMAS, Ed. : Documents from Old Testament 
Times 18/85 

The Judaic Tradition 

MARTIN BUBER: Eclipse of God: Studies in the Relation 
Between Religion and Philosophy TB/12 

MARTIN BUBER: Moses: The Revelation and the Cove- 
nant TB/27 

MARTIN BUBER: Pointing the Way. Introduction by 
Maurice S, Friedman n/toj 

MARTIN BUBER: The Prophetic Faith 18/73 

MARTIN BUBER: Two Types of Faith: the interpenetration 
of Judaism and Christianity 18/75 

ERNST LUDWIG EHRLiCH: A Concise History of Israel: 
From the Earliest Times to the Destruction of the 
Temple in A.D. 70 TB/128 

MAURICE s. FRIEDMAN: Martin Buber: The Life of Dia- 
logue TB/64 

FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS: The Great Roman- Jewish War, with 
The Life of Josephus. Introduction by William R. 
Farmer ra/74 

T. j. MEEK: Hebrew Origins TB/60 

Christianity: Origins & Early Development 

AUGUSTINE: An Augustine Synthesis. Edited by Erich 
Przywara TB/335 

ADOLF DEISSMANN: Paul: A Study in Social and Religious 
History 18/15 

EDWARD GIBBON: The Triumph of Christendom in the 
Roman Empire (Chaps. XV-XX of "Decline and Fall," 
J. B. Bury edition). lllus. 18/46 

MAURICE GOGUEL: Jesus and the Origins of Christianity. 
Introduction by C. Leslie Mitton 
Volume I: Prolegomena to the Life of Jesus 78/65 
Volume H : The Life of Jesus TB/66 


ADOLF HARNACK: The Mission and Expansion of Christi- 
anity in the First Three Centuries. Introduction by 
Jaroslav Pelikan 73/92 

R. K. HARRISON: The Dead Sea Scrolls: An Introduction 


EDWIN HATCH: The Influence of Greek Ideas on Christi- 
anity. Introduction and Bibliography by Frederick 
C. Grant TB/IS 

ARTHUR DARBY NOCK: Early Gentile Christianity and Its 
Hellenistic Background TB/III 


F. VAN DER MEER: Augustine the Bishop: Church and 
Society at the Dawn of the Middle Ages TB/J04 

JOHANNES WEISS: Earliest Christianity: A History of the 

Period AD. 30-150. Introduction and Bibliography 

by Frederick C. Grant Volume I 78/53 

Volume II TB/54 

Christianity: The Middle Ages and The Refor- 

JOHANNES ECKHART: Meister Eckhart: A Modem Trans- 
lation by R, B. Blakney TB/8 

DESIDERTUS ERASMUS: Christian Humanism and the 
Reformation: Selected Writings. Edited and trans- 
lated by John C. Olin TB/n66 

ETiENNE GiLSON: Dante and Philosophy 18/1089 

WILLIAM HALLER : The Rise of Puritanism TB/22 

JOHAN HUIZINGA: Erasmus and the Age of Reforma- 
tion, lllus. TB/19 

A. c. MCGEFFERT: Protestant Thought Before Kant. Pref- 
ace by Jaroslav Pelikan 73/93 

JOHN T. MCNHLL: Makers of the Christian Tradition: 
From Alfred the Great to Schleiermacher TB/III 

G. MOLLAT: The Popes at Avignon, 1305-1378 78/308 
GORDON RUPP: Luther's Progress to the Diet of Worms 


Christianity: The Protestant Tradition 

KARL BARTH: Church Dogmatics: A Selection 78/95 
KARL BARTH: Dogmatics in Outline 73/56 

KARL BARTH: The Word of God and the Word of Mart 


wiNTHROP HUDSON: The Great Tradition of the American 
Churches 78/98 

SOREN KIERKEGAARD: Edifying Discourses. Edited with 
an Introduction by Paul Holmer 78/32 

SOREN KIOUCEGAARD: The Journals of Kierkegaard. 
Edited with an Introduction by Alexander Dru 


SOREN KIERKEGAARD: The Point of View for My Work as 
an Author: A Report to History. Preface by Benja- 
min Nelson TB/88 

SOREN KIERKEGAARD: The Present Age. Translated and 
edited by Alexander Dru. Introduction by Walter 
Kaufmann TB / 94 

SOREN KIERKEGAARD: Purity of Heart 78/4 

SOREN KIERKEGAARD: Repetition: An Essay in Experi- 
mental Psychology. Translated with Introduction & 
Notes by Walter Lowrie 73/117 

SOREN KIERKEGAARD: Works of Love: Some Christian 

Reflections in the Form of Discourses TB/i22 

WALTER LOWRIE: Kierkegaard: A Life Vol. I 13/89 

Vol. II 7B/90 

PERRY MILLER & T. H. JOHNSON, Editors: The Puritans: A 
Sourcebook of Their Writings Vol. I 18/1093 

Vol. II TB/1094 

F. SCHLEIERMACHER: The Christian Faith. Introduction 
by Richard R. Niebuhr Vol. I TB/IOS 

Vol. II TB/109 

F. SCHLEIERMACHER: On Religion: Speeches to Its Cul- 
tured Despisers. Intro, by Rudolf Otto 78/36 

PAUL TILLICH: Dynamics of Faith 78/42 


G. VAN DER LEEUW: Religion in Essence and Manifesta- 
tion: A Study in Phenomenology. Appendices by 
Hans H. Penner Vol. I TB/IOO; Vol. II TB/IOI 

Christianity: The Roman and Eastern 

A. ROBERT CAPONIGRI, Ed.: Modern Catholic Thinkers I: 

God and Man 78/306 

A. ROBERT CAPONIGRI, Ed.: Modern Catholic Thinkers II: 

The Church and the Political Order 73/307 

THOMAS CORBISHLEY, s. j. : Roman Catholicism 78/112 
CHRISTOPHER DAWSON: The Historic Reality of Christian 

Culture TB/305 

G. P. FEDOTOV: The Russian Religious Mind: Kievan 

Christianity, the tenth to the thirteenth centuries 


G. P. FEDOTOV, Ed.: A Treasury of Russian Spirituality 


DAVID KNOWLES: The English Mystical Tradition 


GABRIEL MARCEL: Homo Viator: Introduction to a Meta- 
physic of Hope ^J97 

GUSTAVE WEIGEL,.S. j.: Catholic Theology in Dialogue 


Oriental Religions: far Eastern, Near Eastern 
TOR ANDRAE: Mohammed: The Man and His Faith 


EDWARD CONZE: Buddhism: Its Essence and Develop- 
ment. Foreword by Arthur Waley 78/58 

EDWARD CONZE et al., Editors: Buddhist Texts Through 
the Ages 78/113 

ANANDA COOMARASWAMY: Buddha and the Gospel of 
Buddhism. lllus. 78/119 

H. G. CREEL: Confucius and the Chinese Way 78/63 

FRANKLIN EDGERTON, Trans. & Ed,: The Bhagavad Gita 


SWAMI NIKHILANANDA, Trans. & Ed.: The Upanishads: A 
One-Volume Abridgment 73/114 

HELLMUT WILHELM: Change: Eight Lectures on the I 
Ching TB/2019 

Philosophy of Religion 

RUDOLF BULTMANN: History and Eschatology: The Pres- 
ence of Eternity 78/91 

Myth: A Theological Debate TB/SO 

Ttoo Essays on New Testament Research. Translated 
by Frederick C. Grant 78/96 

MIRCEA ELIADE: The Sacred and the Profane TB/SI 

LUDWIG FEUERBACH: The Essence of Christianity. S In- 
troduction by Karl Earth, foreword by H, Richard 
Niebuhr TB/XX 

ADOLF HARNACK: What is Christianity? Introduction 
by Rudolf Bultmann 78/17 

FRIEDRICH HEGEL: On Christianity: Early Theological 
Writings. Edited by Richard Kroner and T. M. Knox 


KARL HEIM: Christian Faith and Natural Science TB/i6 

IMMANUEL KANT: Religion Within the Limits of Reason 
Alone. Introduction by Theodore M. Greene and 
John Silber 13/67 

JOHN MACQUARRIE: An Existentialist Theology: A Com- 
parison of Heidegger and Bultmann. Preface by 
Rudolf Bultmann 13/125 

PAUL RAMSEY, Ed.: Faith and Ethics: The Theology of 
H. Richard Niebuhr TB/izg 



Religion, Culture & Society 

JOSEPH L. BLAU, Ed.: Cornerstones of Religious Freedom 
in America: Selected Basic Documents, Court De- 
cisions and Public Statements. Revised and Enlarged 
Edition TB/n8 

c. c. GILLISPIE: Genesis and Geology: The Decades be- 
fore Darwin 18/51 

KYLE HASELDEN: The Racial Problem in Christian Per- 
spective TB/116 

WALTER KAUFMANN, Ed.: Religion from Tolstoy to 
Camus: Basic Writings on Religious Truth and 
Morals. Enlarged Edition 78/123 

JOHN T. MC NEILL : A History of the Cure of Souls 73/126 

KENNETH B. MURDOCK: literature and Theology in 
Colonial New England 18/99 

H. RICHARD NIEBUHR: Christ and Culture TB/J 

H. RICHARD NIEBUHR: The Kingdom of God in America 


RALPH BARTON PERRY: Puritanism and Democracy 


PAUL PFUETZE: Self, Society, Existence: Human Nature 
and Dialogue in the Thought of George Herbert Mead 
and Martin Buber TB/1059 

WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH: Christianity and the Social 
Crisis. * Edited by Robert D. Cross 18/3059 

KURT SAMUELSSON: Religion and Economic Action: A 
Critique of Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the 
Spirit of Capitalism. || Trans, by E. G. French; Ed. 
with Intro, by D. C. Coleman TB/IIJI 

ERNST TROELTSCH: The Social Teaching of the Christian 
Churches" Vol. I TB/TI; Vol. II TB/ 7 2 


Biological Sciences 

CHARLOTTE AUERBACH: The Science of Genetics 2 


A. BELLAIRS: Reptiles: Life History, Evolution, and 
Structure. Illus. 78/520 

LUDWIG VON BERTALANFFY: Modern Theories of Develop- 
ment: An Introduction to Theoretical Biology 78/554 

LUDWIG VON BERTALANFFY: Problems of Life: An Evalua- 
tion of Modern Biological and Scientific Thought 


HAROLD F. BLUM: Time's Arrow and Evolution TB/555 
JOHN TYLER BONNER: The Ideas of Biology. 2 Illus. 


A. j. CAIN: Animal Species and their Evolution. Illus. 


WALTER B. CANNON: Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, 
Fear and Rage. Illus, 13/562 

w. E. LE GROS CLARK: The Antecedents of Man: An Intro- 
duction to the Evolution of the Primates, Illus. 


w. H. DOWDESWELL: Animal Ecology. Illus. 18/543 

w. H, DOWDESWELL: The Mechanism of Evolution. Illus. 


R. w. GERARD: Unresting Cells. Illus, 18/541 

DAVID LACK: Darwin's Finches. Illus. TB/544 

j. E. MORTON: Molluscs: An Introduction to their Form 
and Functions. Illus. 18/529 

ADOLF PORTMANN: Animals as Social Beings. Illus. 


o. w, RICHARDS: The Social Insects. Illus. 18/542 

p. M. SHEPPARD: Natural Selection and Heredity. Illus. 


EDMUND w. snrnorr: Cell and Psyche: The Biology of 

Purpose TB/546 

c. H. WADDINGTON: How Animals Develop. Illus. 18/553 


j. R. PARTINGTON: A Short History of Chemistry. IlZws. 


j. READ: A Direct Entry to Organic Chemistry. Illus. 


j. READ : Through Alchemy to Chemistry, Ulus. 18/561 

Communication Theory 

j. R. PIERCE: Symbols, Signals and Noise: The Nature 
and Process of Communication 18/574 


R. E. COKER: This Great and Wide Sea: An Introduction 

to Oceanography and Marine Biology. Illus. TB/551 

F. K. HARE : The Restless Atmosphere 18/560 

History of Science 

w. DAMPIER, Ed.: Readings in the Literature of Science. 

Illus. 13/512 

A. HUNTER DUPREE: Science in the Federal Government: 

A History of Policies and Activities to 1940 18/573 
ALEXANDRE KOYRE: From the Closed World to the Infinite 

Universe: Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, etc. 


A. G. VAN MELSEN: From Atomos to Atom: A History of 

the Concept Atom 11/517 

o. NEUGEBAUER: The Exact Sciences in Antiquity 18/552 

H. T. PLEDGE: Science Since 1500: A Short History of 

Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Illus. 


HANS THIRRING: Energy for Man: From Windmills to 
Nuclear Power 18/556 

WILLIAM LAW WHYTE: Essay on Atomism: From Democ- 
ritus to 1960 18/565 

A. WOLF: A History of Science, Technology and Philoso- 
phy in the i6th and 1781 Centuries, Illus. 

Vol. I TB/508; Vol.11 13/509 
A. WOLF: A History of Science, Technology, and Philoso- 
phy in the Eighteenth Century. Illus. 

Vol. I TB/539; Vol. II TB/540 


H. DAVENPORT: The Higher Arithmetic: An Introduction 
to the Theory of Numbers 18/526 

H. G. FORDER: Geometry: An Introduction 18/548 

GOTTLOB TOEGE: The Foundations of Arithmetic: A 
Logico-Mathematical Enquiry 18/554 

s. KORNER: The Philosophy of Mathematics: An Intro- 
duction TB /547 

D. E. LITUEWOOD: Skeleton Key of Mathematics: A 
Simple Account of Complex Algebraic Problems 


GEORGE E. OWEN: Fundamentals of Scientific Mathe- 
matics 18/569 

WILLARD VAN ORMAN QtnNE: Mathematical Logic 18/558 

o. G. SUTTON: Mathematics in Action. Foreword by 
James R. Newman. Illus. 18/518 

FREDERICK WAiSMANN: Introduction to Mathematical 
Thinking. Foreword by Karl Menger 18/511 

Philosophy of Science 

R. B. BRAiTHWArrE: Scientific Explanation 18/515 

j. BRONOWSKI: Science and Human Values. Revised and 
Enlarged Edition 18/505 

AtBERT EINSTEIN et al: Albert Einstein: Philosopher- 
Scientist. Edited by Paul A. Schilpp Vol. I 18/502 
Vol. II 18/503 

WERNER HEISENBERG: Physics and Philosophy: The Revo- 
lution in Modern Science 18/549 

JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES: A Treatise on Probability. 
Introduction by N. R. Hanson 18/557 

KARL R. POPPER: The Logic of Scientific Discovery 


STEPHEN TOULMIN: Foresight and^ Understanding: An 
Enquiry into the Aims of Science, Foreword by 
Jacques Barzun 18/564 

STEPHEN TOULMIN: The Philosophy of Science: An In- 
troduction TB/51J 
G. j. WHTTROW: The Natural Philosophy of Time 


Physics and Cosmology 

DAVID BOHM: Causality and Chance in Modern Physics. 
Foreword by Louis de Broglie 18/536 

p. w. BRIDGMAN: The Nature of Thermodynamics 


p. w. BRIDGMAN: A Sophisticate'? Primer of Relativity 


A. c. CROMBIE, Ed.: Turning Point in Physics 18/535 

c. v. DURELL: Readable Relativity. Foreword by Freeman 
J. Dyson 18/530 

ARTHUR EDDINGTON: Space, Time and Gravitation: An 
outline of the General Relativity Theory TB/5io 

GEORGE GAMOW: Biography of Physics S TB/56/ 

MAX JAMMER: Concepts of Force: A Study in the Founda- 
tion of Dynamics 18/550 

MAX JAMMER: Concepts of Mass in Classical and Modern 
Physics TB/57-L 

MAX JAMMER: Concepts of Space: The History of 
Theories of Space in Physics. Foreword by Albert 
Einstein "n/m 

EDMUND WHITTAKER: History of the Theories of Aether 
and Electricity 

Volume I: The Classical Theories TB/531 
Volume II: The Modern Theories 18/532 

G. j. WHITROW: The Structure and Evolution of the Uni- 
verse: An Introduction to Cosmology, Illus. 18/504 

Code to Tarchbook Libraries: 

TB/1 + 

The Cloister Library 


The Cathedral Library 


The Science Library 


The Academy Library 


The Bollingen Library 


The University Library 



Overseas, there is considerable belief 
that we are a country of extreme conservatism and 
that we cannot accommodate to social change. 

Books about America in the hands of 
readers abroad can help change those ideas. 

The U. S. Information Agency cannot, 
by itself, meet the vast need for books about 
the United States. 

You can help. 

Harper Torchbooks provides three packets 
of books on American history, economics, 
sociology, literature and politics to 
help meet the need. 

To send a packet of Torchbooks [*] overseas, 
all you need do is send your check for $7 (which 
includes cost of shipping) to Harper & Row. 
The U. S. Information Agency will distrib- 
ute the books to libraries, schools, and other 
centers all over the world. 

I ask every American to support this 
program, part of a worldwide BOOKS USA campaign. 

I ask you to share in the opportunity to 
help tell others about America. 



U. S. Information Agency 

[^retailing at $10.85 to $12.00] 

PACKET I; Twentieth Century America 
Dulles/America's Rise to World Power, 1898-1954 
Cochran/The American Business System, 1900-1955 
Zabel, Editor/Literary Opinion in America (two volumes) 
Drucker/The New Society: The Anatomy of Industrial Order 
or tune Editors/ America in the Sixties : The Economy and the Society 

PACKET II: American History 
Billington/The Far Western Frontier, 1830-1860 
Mowry/The Era of Theodore Roosevelt and the 

Birth of Modern America, 1900-1912 
Faulkner/Politics, Reform, and Expansion, 1890-1900 
Cochran & Miller/The Age of Enterprise: A Social History of 

Industrial America 
Tyler/Freedom's Ferment: American Social History from the 

Revolution to the Civil War 

PACKET III: American History 
Hansen/The Atlantic Migration, 1607-1860 
Degler/Out of Our Past: The Forces that Shaped Modern America 
Probst, Editor/The Happy Republic: A Reader in Tocqueville's America 
Alden/The American Revolution, 1775-1783 
Wright/The Cultural Life of the American Colonies, 1607-1763 

Yowr gift will be acknowledged directly to you by the overseas recipient. 
Simply fill out the coupon, detach and mail with your check or money order. 


49 East 33rd Street, New York 16, N. Y. 

Packet I D Packet II D Packet III D 

Please send the BOOKS USA library packet(s) indicated above, in my 
name, to th'e area checked below. Enclosed is my remittance in the 

amnftnt of for narkoffcl af *7 Hfl oarln 


Latin America 

Far East -f *\ /* P* 

N^eir Fast 




NOTE: This offer expires December 31, 1966.